1. The Ephedra Free "Natural" Fat Burners –
Many of the supplement sellers are having a field day selling new addictive stimulants wearing labels that say "Natural." Natural suggests the compound is something found in nature, either in plants, animals, or yes, even people. That really allows for a great many compounds to be packaged as "natural," after all, the human body produces hydrochloric acid and ammonia, animals sometimes have poison glands that house neurotoxins, and plants are the raw material for everything from opium to cocaine. Natural does not necessarily equate to "safe."
When ephedrine was "pulled" (not banned as many believe – you can still buy OTC asthma meds such as Primatene tablets, pure ephedrine HCl in pharmacies) from the shelves of health food stores, the supplement sellers were not surprised. They had fair warning so their scientists created new formulas that the marketing folks would make sure the public bought into. They searched for a compound with similar attributes to those we associate with ephedrine, but one that had not been sold in great volume for regular usage so the risks and hazards were unproven. They found synephrine, the primary ingredient in many nasal sprays. Just as ephedrine can be derived from herbal sources (ma huang, ephedra), so too can synephrine (citrus aurantium, bitter orange). These "new" compounds "work" primarily via diuretic water loss (of course they are loaded with "natural" caffeine) and appetite suppression, not unlike the diet pills of the 1970's. They are in most cases a 21st century legal version of speed, and while they can result in short term weight loss, and even short term accelerated fat loss in individuals committed to eating right and exercising, they alter endocrine production and find repeat buyers not because of a metabolism boost, but rather because of the initiation of a legal "natural" addiction. I suspect that with time we'll find the "new" fat burners to be just as potentially dangerous as those that were last scrutinized by the FDA.
2. The "Work the Abs Using Proven Research and Reduce the Waist" infomercial products.
Get great abs? Get a tiny waistline? Get in shape for the beach? These are all-too-common come-ons, but when they tie into an ab exerciser there is need for a red flag to be raised.
It appears, based on some very credible research (find info on a study that reviewed common ab exercises at San Diego State sanctioned by ACE) that movements that allow you to safely move, in a horizontal face-up position, to a hyperextensive position beyond a neutral spine allow for both a greater recruitment of abdominal muscle fibers and a greater overall muscle contraction then a standard crunch where the floor limits the range of motion. In other words, if you can envision a crunch performed on a stability ball, you'll recognize that the shape of the ball allows for a greater extension of the abdominal muscles than the same crunch performed on a bench or on the floor. There is some degree of hyperextension range in the thoracic vertebrae as well as the lumbar vertebrae and the support of the ball prevents the spine from hyperextending beyond its normal capacity. The full extension and full contraction would amount to the "full range of motion" we use when training other muscles.