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Exaggerated claims on weight loss products are nothing new, but the increased number of false claims on dietary supplement and weight loss product labels has triggered the government to warn companies and customers. An October 3 article by Garance Burke of the Associated Press calls attention to a report issued this week by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The report found that 20 percent of 127 weight loss and immune-boosting supplements it reviewed carried labels that made false claims to cure or treat diseases.

Illegal claims to treat or cure cancer, diabetes and even AIDS were found by the DHHS investigators. Their report noted the concern that some consumers easily could be tricked into substituting these products for prescription medications with disastrous results.

While this particular report focused on just one segment of the dietary supplement market, the $20 billion market is booming and boasts thousands of products and a strong lobby. Yet, because dietary supplements fall outside the realm of products reviewed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), scientific evidence that dietary supplements do what they claim to do has not been required to be submitted to the FDA for approval.

The report recommended that FDA "ramp up" its oversight powers to include more scrutiny of dietary supplements, and FDA’s Office of Food Safety "said it would consider asking Congress for more oversight powers to review supplement companies’ evidence" of their products’ claimed benefits, and agreed that the agency should expand its surveillance of the market to detect false claims.

Before you take a supplement, check with your doctor on the efficacy of it. Some of the claim made by these companies are not legitimate.

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