How to Spot a Quack
By Terry Dunkle, DietPower Founder, and CEO
Here are eight questions to ask when evaluating any product or service. Ply them well and you'll never get nibbled.
(To nominate a quack for investigation, send a confidential e-mail to
To see quacks we've already exposed, scroll down.)
- Does it sound too good to be true? ("Lose Weight While You Sleep!") It probably isn't.
- Does it cite facts? ("Rated '4 Stars' by ZDNet.") Or does it merely make claims? ("Best Fat Blocker Money Can Buy!")
- Does it quote genuine authorities? ("Liz Applegate, R.D., Ph.D.") Or do testimonials come only from celebrities?
("Susie Smith, slender star of 'Nights of Our Lives.")
- Do the "authorities" stand to gain from their endorsement? ("I was so impressed with this product, I bought the company!")
- Does it quote mainstream publications? Large magazines such as American Health, Reader's Digest,
Health, and Runner's World are more reliable than special-interest publications. The big ones can afford competent fact-checking departments.
They're also less likely to be published by the same company whose products are featured in their "editorial" pages.
- Does it quote peer-reviewed scientific journals? "Peer-reviewed" means every article has passed review by other experts in the author's field.
Examples: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature.
- Does it cite research by U.S. government institutions? These are the gold standard. Government pronouncements usually undergo strict review before publication.
- Does it offer a money-back guarantee? DietPower does—not for 30 days, but for a full year.
Quacks We've Already Exposed
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