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FTC Takes Action Against Deceptive Weight Loss Advertising

With a new year comes the influx of new diets, prompting the FTC to take action against deceptive weight loss advertising. On Tuesday The Federal Trade Commission announced enforcement actions against four companies the agency claims have used deceptive advertising to sell weight-loss products.

Sample ad by Sensa. Image courtesy of Fab over fifty

Sample ad by Sensa.
Image courtesy of Fab over fifty

With a new year comes the influx of new diets, prompting the FTC to take action against deceptive weight loss advertising. On Tuesday The Federal Trade Commission announced enforcement actions against four companies the agency claims have used deceptive advertising to sell weight-loss products.The products enticed consumers to buy them on the premise of making weight-loss easy. But “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,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s consumer protection bureau. “The science just isn’t there.”The FTC has announced the following enforcement actions:

The marketers of Sensa, a weight-loss powder which is sprinkled on food” will pay $26.5 million to settle agency charges that the company made unfounded weight-loss claims and used misleading endorsements per USA Today. The money will be used to refund customers who have bought the product, which was sold by major retail chains such as Costco, GNC, the Home Shopping Network and even online. Terms of the settlement, bar the company, its CEO and part-owner Alan Hirsch from making weight-loss claims about dietary supplements, foods or drugs unless they have two adequate and well-controlled human studies to back it up.

HCG Diet Direct had its $3.2 million judgment suspended because the company was unable to pay. They marketed an “unproven human hormone that has been touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment.” They have the same bar against them as Sensa.

LeanSpa principal Boris Mizhen and three companies he controls will surrender cash, personal property, and real estate worth an estimated $7 million a partial settlement with the FTC. Alleged deceptive promotion through fake news websites of acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss supplements are to blame. Litigation continues against other defendants in the LeanSpa case the FTC said.

L’Occitane Inc. will pay $450,000 for selling its Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight skin creams, which the company claims has body slimming capabilities and have been clinically proven. Ads state Almond Beautiful Shape was a “cellulite fighter” and could “trim 1.3 inches in just 4 weeks.” Yet the company has no science to back up the claim, the FTC said. The suggested settlement in this case, bans the firm from claiming any product applied to the skin causes substantial weight loss and reduction in body size.

With the FTC taking action against deceptive weight loss advertising, the hope is other companies will be more mindful of the claims they make on their products.

About Chelsea Alves


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