March 26, 1997 in Nation/World

Ftc Watching Weight-Loss Ads Agency Wants Consumers To Lose Pounds, Not Just Dollars

Associated Press

Cracking down on weight-loss claims that sound too good to be true, the Federal Trade Commission launched an awareness campaign Tuesday to prevent consumers from wasting their money - and hope.

Operation Waistline will focus on uncovering deceptive weight-loss claims and bringing legal action against businesses that violate the law with misleading advertisements.

The FTC said it has proposed settlements with seven businesses that promised amazing weight loss through diet supplements, skin patches and shoe insoles - and making more than $34 million in profit from the claims.

Americans spend about $6 billion a year on fraudulent diet products, the FTC estimates.

“Even though some of these weight-loss ads sound too good to be true, consumers’ anxiety about their weight and diet can easily overwhelm their better judgment,” said Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Heart disease, high blood pressure and other health problems associated with obesity also make consumers easy prey for hucksters, she said.

As part of its efforts, the FTC sent letters to more than 100 publications that have run deceptive weight-loss ads, advising that the future ads be reviewed.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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