What I Discovered When I Looked into Sarah’s Discovery
May 11th, 2021
As a college student, I spend more time than I care to admit on Instagram, DM’ing my friends memes or reels that I find humorous. But recently, we’ve been sharing posts with each other about an apparent weight-loss trend that has flooded our Instagram feeds.
I decided it was time to see what this “miracle” product was all about. Here’s what I discovered when I looked into Sarah’s Discovery.
Turns out, Sarah’s Discovery is not a single product, but rather a regimen that combines drinking apple cider vinegar diluted in water and taking a supplement that is said to curb your appetite. That’s what Sarah Johnson, a “Stanford Masters Student,” claims she did to allegedly lose 25 pounds in 30 days.
But Sarah says she lost the weight without any changes to her daily routine, which is a red flag: According to the FTC, claims that you can lose weight without changing your habits are false.
In fact, there are many red flags associated with the marketing of Sarah’s Discovery on Instagram. Among them:
- There does not appear to be an official, verified Instagram account for either Sarah Johnson or Sarah’s Discovery. Several unverified Instagram accounts – @sarahs.discovery, @sarahsdiscovery.aaa and @sarahjohnsondiscovery, just to name a few – share the same profile picture and give the impression that they are run by Sarah herself by, for example, captioning before-and-after photos “Another amazing transformation using my weight loss discovery.” These accounts combine for more than 500,000 followers, but it’s unclear who’s behind them or if Sarah Johnson is even a real person.
- A link in the bio of these accounts directs consumers to an article giving Sarah’s backstory, though I found a near-identical article linked in the bio of an Instagram account belonging to Jessica Nutrition. But instead of Sarah Johnson as the “Stanford Masters Student,” it was Jessica Reed who had made the discovery and lost 25 pounds in 30 days. That, and one other thing was different: the name of the supplement containing the purported metabolism-boosting ingredient hydroxycitric [sic] acid. The supplement in the Jessica Reed article was called One Shot Keto, whereas the supplements linked in the bios of the Sarah Johnson-affiliated Instagram accounts went by many names, but One Shot Keto wasn’t one of them.
- Depending on which link you click in the Sarah Johnson bios, you may be offered a bottle of Ideal Science, SlimForm, Quick Shred Keto, Keto Burn 5x, Vital Lean Keto, Keto Slime X, the list goes on. And paying a small shipping and handling fee for at least one of these supplements marketed as “free” signs you up for future shipments at a cost of $100 a month as part of a negative-option offer, the terms of which are buried at the bottom of the article.
The moral of the story? Just because a weight-loss product or program is all over Instagram doesn’t mean it should be trusted. The before-and-after photos may be compelling but so are the reasons to do your research before handing over your payment information to a supplement seller online.