The U.S. weight-loss industry reaches multibillion dollar revenues each year. Just as people are considering New Year’s resolutions that may involve weight loss, the FTC has cracked down on four marketers of fad weight-loss products.
The marketers of Sensa, the “sprinkle, eat, and lose weight” product, will pay $26.5 million as part of a settlement charging that they deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements. The money from the settlement will go toward refunds to consumers who purchased the product.
The company that marketed L’Occitane Almond Beautiful, a skin cream touted to slim users’ bodies but had no scientific credence to back up the claim, settled for $450,000.
HCG Diet Direct marketed a human hormone as a weight-loss treatment, without any scientific proof, that is considered a mislabeled drug by the FDA. The judgment against the company called for $3.2 million but was suspended based on the company’s inability to pay.
LeanSpa, LLC, deceptively used fake news websites to promote its acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss supplements. In a partial settlement, the company surrendered assets totaling around $7.3 million.
The Better Business Bureau warns consumers about the following weight-loss claims that unscrupulous marketers often make in their advertisements, such as:
• Losing weight without changing your diet or exercise.
• Losing weight no matter how much of your favorite foods you eat.
• Permanent weight loss. Never dieting again.
• All you need is to take a pill to lose weight.
• Losing extreme amounts of weight in a short time, such as 30 pounds in 30 days.
• Everybody can lose weight with the product (one size fits all).
• Using a diet cream or patch to lose weight.
If nutrition and weight control are on your list of resolutions this year, check out the information at Nutrition.gov, ChooseMyPlate.gov and the Weight-control Information Network ( www.win.niddk.nih.gov).
If you see an advertising claim that seems suspiciously deceiving or purchased a product that is not living up to its claims, contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or call (509) 455-4200 for assistance. You can also file complaints with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office at www.atg.wa.gov/ fileacomplaint.aspx and with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant. gov.
Erin T. Dodge,