Where we get fit and spin (wool)

This is a snippit of an article I read today, I can’t say it better:

“All Natural”

As businesses compete for eyeballs at the grocery store, they increasingly rely on aggressive marketing practices to entice shoppers to open their wallets. Food makers are especially prone to over-exaggerating nutritional benefits of their products for a simple reason — people are willing to shell out big bucks for it. The natural and organics food business brought in $81.3 billion in 2012, up 14% from the year before.

The problem is that while the U.S. Department of Agriculture actively polices “organic” claims on food labels, the Food and Drug Administration still hasn’t gotten around to clearly defining the term “natural.” As a result, food makers are free to slap the label on their products, but consumers can’t be sure the food is actually “from nature” as claimed. Arguably, any food, no matter what garden or local greenhouse it came from, is “processed” the minute it’s put in a box and shipped to stores.

It’s not that these foods are inherently unhealthy, but the fact that they’re often being sold at a premium and marketed as “better than” other alternatives is what irks regulators and consumers alike.

If you want truly natural foods, your best bet is to look for “100% organic” labels. By law, organic means foods weren’t made using pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically engineered ingredients. But make sure to look for “100%” on the label — the USDA allows products to be labeled organic even if they aren’t entirely made using organic ingredients.

If you’re just worried about eating overly processed foods, the folks at EatRight.org have a nice set of guidelines on what ingredients to keep an eye out for on food labels.

“Weight loss fads”

The $61 billion weight-loss industry is also rife with opportunities for marketers to over-promote the “fat-blasting” power of certain products — from vitamins and supplements to exercise equipment and so-called “fitness-wear.” In January, the FTC fined a handful of health and beauty companies — including L’Occitane and Sensa — $34 million for allegedly making false weight-loss claims about products such as slimming body lotions and powdered food that was supposed to make people eat less.

If a weight-loss product promises it makes losing weight “quick, easy and effortless!” chances are it’s a sham. Anyone who’s ever killed themselves on the treadmill to shed a pound a week will tell you there are only two ingredients needed for weight loss: sweat and discipline, both of which are free.

The FTC cautions against trusting “before and after” photos in ads as well, as there’s no easy way to prove their legitimacy. See its guidance on “Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads” before buying into any weight loss product sales pitch. They also have a good Health & Fitness buying guides with tips on how to spot misleading advertising.

“Privacy”

For Snapchat, which has attracted millions of users based on its promise that the photo messages they send “disappear forever” and that their information wasn’t being collected, the FTC’s ruling is particularly jarring.

We could write volumes on the issue of consumer privacy in the age of Big Data (and we have). In a nutshell, we’d take any company’s promises to keep your personal data completely private with a large grain of salt.

If you carry a smartphone, chances are at least some of your apps are tracking you in some way. You should take time to adjust your privacy settings in each app by tapping into your phone’s privacy settings. The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, which allows them to tailor ads to you based on your browsing history, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself. To do so, tap your “settings” icon, scroll down to ‘privacy’ and find the tab labeled ‘advertising’. Turn ‘limit ad tracking’ on.

via What to do when companies deceive you – Yahoo Finance.

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