A UK consumer watchdog is warning consumers to use Internet web sites offering weight loss advice with caution. The Consumers’ Association magazine Health Which? has urged Internet users to take advice from qualified doctors and to seek a personalised diet programme rather following a diet they have picked up from the Internet with no consultation.

The magazine examined ten popular weight-loss websites and found that seven performed poorly when measured against criteria such as: Did they have evidence to support the claims of the diet? Did they provide personalised advice from suitably qualified practitioners? Did they follow up on the progress of customers?

Reporters for the magazine then put the three remaining sites through their paces by signing up two fictitious characters. One was an obese male, the other a female with symptoms of anorexia nervosa.

The review panel decreed that only one of the sites, tntgetfit.com provided “good advice,” as the other two failed to warn the ‘clients’ about weight-related health risks. Ediets.com gave the male client an unsuitable exercise regime, and failed to tell him his weight was endangering his health. Fitbay.net told the borderline anorexic to cut her body fat, reported Reuters Health.

This study is further evidence of the need to use the Internet wisely. There are a lot of useful services and information available on the Internet, but as with other resources, consumers need to check the credibility of the information or service provider before putting their faith in it.