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.)

  1. Does it sound too good to be true? ("Lose Weight While You Sleep!") It probably isn't.
  2. Does it cite facts? ("Rated '4 Stars' by ZDNet.") Or does it merely make claims? ("Best Fat Blocker Money Can Buy!")
  3. 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.")
  4. Do the "authorities" stand to gain from their endorsement? ("I was so impressed with this product, I bought the company!")
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Does it cite research by U.S. government institutions? These are the gold standard. Government pronouncements usually undergo strict review before publication.
  8. 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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