U.S. Federal Citizen Information Center: General Tips

The following suggestions will help you save money when shopping for food.

Use a grocery list. You will be less likely to pick up extra items.
Shop at the lower-priced food stores. Convenience stores often charge the highest prices.
Compare price-per-ounce or other unit prices.
Stock up on non-perishable items with low per-unit costs.
To help you make healthy food choices, the federal government posts dietary guidelines at www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines. Federal regulations also require many foods to identify fat content, fiber and nutrients on their labels.

For more information, check out these sources of information on food shopping, safety, and nutrition.

U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Food and Drug Administration
Nutrition.gov (www.nutrition.gov)
MedlinePlus (Click on F for Food or N for Nutrition at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus)
The Nutrition Source (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource)

U.S. Federal Citizen Information Center: Weight Reduction

The federal government has brought together information on weight loss and dieting at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/weightlossanddieting.html.

If you need to lose weight, talk with your doctor about the options that are best for you. Most health experts agree that the best and safest way to lose weight is to modestly cut calories, eat a balanced diet, and exercise. People usually do best when they reduce their usual calorie intake or increase the calories they use by 500--1,000 per day. This allows you to eat enough for good nutrition yet lose about one to two pounds a week. Steer clear of harmful tactics such as smoking, fasting, purging, or abusing laxatives.

To make sure you safely lose pounds not just dollars, ask these questions:

How does the product or service work? Does the program emphasize diet, exercise or a combination of both.
How much will it cost? Ask for an itemized list that includes membership fees and fees for weekly visits. Ask if there are extra fees for diagnostic tests, food, dietary supplements, or other products in the program.
How well does it work? Ask to see the studies that back up success claims. Look for how many people completed the program, how much weight they lost, and how long they kept the weight off.
What are the risks? Get details about possible side effects. Check with your doctor before you take prescriptions, over-the-counter weight loss drugs, or dietary supplements. Diets that require drastic food restriction should be under the supervision of a physician.
How many calories will you eat each day? For diets under 1500 calories, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure you meet all your nutrient needs.
What are the staff qualifications? Ask about their training and experience.
What type of attention will you receive? Will you get individual counseling or group support? How often?
Complaints concerning fraudulent weight loss claims should be directed to the Federal Trade Commission.