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Deceptive Weight-Loss Products Now Under Scrutiny from the FTC

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced its enforcement of actions that will be taken against four major weight-loss companies in the United States. According to the FTC, each of these companies is guilty of falsely luring customers into purchasing their weight-loss products through advertisements that are no more than empty promises and / or deceptive claims.

The companies that the FTC has taken action against include:

  1. HCG Diet Direct: The Arizona-based company is responsible for the sale of liquid drops that contain a diluted form of human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that is produced by the human placenta. Ads for the product claimed that consumers could lose up to one pound per day by simply placing the liquid under their tongues before eating meals and while maintaining a low-calorie diet. The $3.2 million judgment against the company has been suspended because of the business's inability to pay; however, a new proposed settlement bars the company from making any weight-loss product claims that are misleading and that have not been backed by at least two, controlled human clinical studies.
  2. LeanSpa: LeanSpa caught the FTC's eye when the owner allegedly engaged in a deceptive promotion that involved the use of fake news websites advertising the acai berry and weight-loss supplements for colon cleansing. Principal of the company, B.M., and three more companies that he controls will soon surrender $7 million worth of cash, personal property, and real estate as part of the company's partial settlement with the FTC. The operation has been shut down since December of 2011, but litigation against the company continues.
  3. L'Occitane: Two of L'Occitane's skin creams – Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight Skin – have caused serious trouble for the company. Marketed as creams that were clinically proven to create body slimming, the claims of these products were never backed by scientific fact. Promises to fight cellulite and trim inches from users were nothing more than false advertising claims. Now, the company is looking at a settlement that bans it from making any claims suggesting that a product which can be applied to the skin will result in reduced body size or substantial weight loss.
  4. Sensa: The marketers of the weight-loss powder known as Sensa must pay a $26.5 million settlement for their unfounded claims and deceptive endorsements. The terms of the settlement bar the company and the creator of Sensa from making any more weight-loss claims about dietary supplements, drugs, and food if the products have not been tested by at least two controlled human clinical studies. The money from the settlement will be used to refund consumers who bought Sensa.

The director of the FTC's consumer protection bureau, J. Rich, has been actively involved in the new actions being taken against misleading weight-loss companies. As she puts it, "the chances of being successful [at weight loss] just by…using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn't there." According to Rich, media organizations should be actively screening and rejecting deceptive advertisements that come their way. To help substantiate this process, the FTC is sending letters to 75 different broadcasters, publishers, and media trade groups asking that sales staff be educated on how to identify bogus claims.

Until weight-loss companies such as those described above stop their misleading advertising practices, consumers are warned to be cautious of any dietary products with claims that sound too good to be true. Anyone whose health was compromised by taking a weight-loss supplement can contact us at The Senators Firm for professional help seeking compensation for your injuries. We can be reached toll-free at 800-773-0849.

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