The US, Canada, and Mexico make up the Trilateral Cooperation
Weight loss scams on the Internet have been an issue with global consequences not just to waistlines, but also to the pocketbooks of people who are desperately trying to lose weight. But there is a group of government leaders from the United States, Canada, and Mexico who are trying to do something about it.
Member agencies of a group called MUCH (Mexico, United States, Canada Health Fraud Working Group), consists of regulatory officials from health, consumer protection and competition agencies in Mexico (Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), Office of the Federal Attorney for Consumer Protection (PROFECO), the United States (Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration) and Canada (Health Canada, Competition Bureau).
These three countries form the Trilateral Cooperation, signed in 2003, and announced on Monday that nearly 730 compliance actions have been taken against various companies who have attempted to sell useless weight loss products to consumers all across North America.
Dr. Murray Lumpkin, who serves as the Deputy Commissioner of International and Special Programs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said these kind of ads are having a negative impact on the physical and economic health of our society.
"False and misleading claims can have significant health consequences for those who use these products that do not produce the desired results," said Dr. Lumpkin. "The collaborative efforts of all three countries have contributed to these enforcement actions and we look forward to continuing our trilateral initiatives to make North Americans healthier and able to make better informed health care decisions."
Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh added that too many consumers are "particularly vulnerable" because they find it difficult to decipher fact from fiction regarding weight loss product claims.
"They want to lose weight, and they want to believe that a product will work for them," Dosanjh stated. "Now, through the Internet, these claims are not just coming from our own country, but from elsewhere. The work of the Trilateral Cooperation is a direct response to that."
With obesity on the rise in all three countries, coordinating the efforts against these bogus weight loss scams has been the right thing to do.
As a result, there have already been prosecutions, recalls, seizures, import refusals, warnings and other enforcement programs against false and misleading weight loss advertising and labeling, as well as the promotion of voluntary industry compliance. Additionally, compliance and enforcement actions are complemented by a comprehensive education and public outreach program to help consumers, industry and advertisers to identify which types of claims are deceptive and misleading.
In fact, you have got to go to this creative web site to see how easy it is to be duped by a weight loss scam. Start clicking and watch what happens!
I applaud the Trilateral Cooperation for standing against these criminals because as someone who used to battle with his weight, this is not something you play around with casually for the sake of making a buck. There are real people out there who are hurting because they are carrying around 25, 50, 100, or 200+ pounds of extra body weight they just don't need. They are desperately looking for a way to lose weight fast and permanently.
I was there less than 2 years ago and know the pain of being obese. It's not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual. Your desire to lose weight seems to be pie in the sky (and you want to eat that, too!). That's why these weight loss scams have been so successful. They prey on innocent people who are just wanting to do something about their weight. Unfortunately, the hard reality is that it takes more than a wonder pill or program to make it happen. These ladies apparently haven't learned that lesson yet.
But when I saw what the three countries were recommending to people who need to lose weight, I just had to shake my head:
"The only way to lose weight is to follow a sensible, well-balanced diet that lowers caloric intake and/or increase physical activity," according to a press release from the FDA.
They go on to lead people to this page on their web site about making these "healthy" choices to eat a low-fat/low-calorie/portion-controlled diet with moderate exercise.
Do you ever get the feeling that we've got a bunch of robots working in the FDA? With obesity rates going through the roof, they still want people to believe they need to watch their fat, calories, and portions to lose weight. And if you are a non-exerciser, how the heck are you supposed to know what "moderate exercise" is?!
Sometimes I think these people in Washington don't have a lick of common sense in them. I know they mean well and they think they are making an impact on the health of the citizens of the United States. But the dismal failure of the low-fat diet over the past few decades should make them change their tune to look at a variety of options for battling obesity, including livin' la vida low-carb. There are real people who are losing weight on this way of eating and it should not be shunned as it is now.
Kudos to the Trilateral Cooperation for taking down these filthy rotten scoundrels who are peddling junk to hopeless consumers. I highly encourage all of the countries involved to continue promoting healthy living and to start incorporating a controlled-carb approach into that line of thinking. Watch what happens to the obesity rates when that happens!