6 Biggest Diet Scams Ever

In the world of weight loss, there are plenty of reputable products and plans. But there are also lots of schemes, scams, and swindles-programs that promise amazing results overnight or pills that claim they can melt away fat with no side effects. How can you cut through the hype and keep from being a victim? Read on as we expose the six most outrageous diet rip-offs of all time.

Diet Patches. The idea that you could stick a patch on your skin and peel away the pounds may sound appealing. But to date, there's no evidence to prove that these products actually work. In fact, in 2004 marketers of the seaweed-based "Peel Away the Pounds" patch-which claimed it could shed three to five pounds a week in its infomercials-agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they made false and unsubstantiated weight-loss claims.

Slim Suits. The claim: These thick, layered "body wraps" increase your body temperature and melt the pounds away. The reality: These cleverly marketed modern-day girdles aren't all they're cracked up to be. According to experts, although you could lose a few ounces of water weight through perspiration while wearing one, you'd gain it right back after your next drink.

Cortisol Reducers. In recent years, a number of companies have introduced supplements that promise to reduce cortisol and, in turn, belly fat. But it's never been proven that any of these products actually works. Maybe that's why in 2007 the FTC nailed the makers of both Cortistress and CortiSlim with $12 million in fines for making false and unsubstantiated claims.

Weight-Loss Creams. These dream creams may sound like miracle solutions, but it's unlikely that you'll lose anything—except your wallet-by using them. For this reason, the FDA issued warning letters in 2004 to companies selling creams that claimed they could break down unwanted fat, stimulate metabolism, or help lose inches and pounds.

Herbal Teas. Tea may offer a host of health benefits, but according to experts, weight loss isn't one of them. One of the most fraudulent of these products is Wu-Yi Source's Weight-Loss Tea—a product that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received complaints about in 19 states. When consumers seek their "iron-clad" refund, they get "vague answers and stall tactics so that the company doesn't have to honor its 60-day refund policy," the BBB reports.

Diet Pills. These tablets and capsules might claim they can create bathing-suit bodies in weeks or even days. Recently, however, marketers of four weight-loss pills-Xenadrine EFX, One-A-Day Weight Smart, CortiSlim, and TrimSpa-were fined $25 million by the FTC for making false claims. As it stands now, Alli (active ingredient: orlistat) is the only product with enough favorable research to have earned the FDA's approval.