Recently the FTC settled charges of deceptive advertising against four weight loss companies: Sensa for $26.5 million, L’Occitane, Inc. for $450,000, HCG Diet Direct for $3.2 million, and LeanSpa LLC for $7 million. Director of the FTCs Bureau of Consumer Protection, Jessica Rich, said in the FTC statement:
“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep. And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn’t there.”
The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act requires that manufacturers of dietary supplements have substantiation that the claim being made is truthful and not misleading. The FTC has a page just for Weight Loss and Fitness Consumer Information.
Here are a few of the claims to watch for:
- Lose weight no matter what, and/or without diet or exercise.
- Never diet again
- Lose weight extremely fast
- It’s a miracle patch, cream, pill, supplement
In order to lose weight you need to eat a healthy diet, reduce stress, get plenty of water and sleep, and exercise. Be realistic about your weight loss goals. Just like the recent news story about the science teacher who ate fast food for three months and lost 37 pounds did. He carefully planned his meals, limited intake of calories to 2,000, and followed recommendations for carbs, proteins, etc. He also walked for 45 minutes every day. Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise or weight loss plan.
Above all if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is fake. Here are two tips:
- Be skeptical about promises, testimonials, and endorsements. Remember that anyone making an endorsement is required to disclose his or her connection to the company/product.
- Research the company and product. Look into the study that they offer in support of their claims.
Sensa and Three Other Marketers of Fad Weight-Loss Products Settle FTC Charges in Crackdown on Deceptive Advertising (http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/01/sensa-three-other-marketers-fad-weight-loss-products-settle-ftc)
Guidance for Industry: Substantiation for Dietary Supplement Claims Made Under Section 403(r) (6) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/DietarySupplements/ucm073200.htm)
Weighing the Claims in Diet Ads (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0061-weighing-claims-diet-ads#whereto)
FTC Endorsement Guidelines (http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus71-ftcs-revised-endorsement-guideswhat-people-are-asking)
FTC Gut Check Quiz (http://business.ftc.gov/content/gut-check-quiz)
FTC Complaint (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#&panel1-1)