Government tells consumers, media how to spot deceptive diet ads
Tuesday, December 9th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Lose weight without dieting or exercise! Eat your way to a trimmer you! Block fat before your body can absorb it!
According to the government, what products using those slogans should really say is: ``I lost $350 in two weeks. Ask me how!''
The Federal Trade Commission released a guide Tuesday to help consumers and the media spot deceptive weight-loss products. The goal is to prevent consumers from wasting their money and to get newspapers and broadcasters to reject advertisements.
``There are no magic bullets or effortless ways to burn fat,'' FTC Chairman Timothy Muris said in a statement. Fraudulent weight-loss products, he said, ``target people desperate to lose weight and willing to try almost anything.''
Product claims that should raise suspicion include: users can lose two pounds or more a week for a month without dieting or exercise; that it causes permanent weight loss even after the customer stops taking it; that it provides substantial weight loss if rubbed into the skin or worn on the body; and that everyone who uses it loses substantial weight.
``Ads for so-called miracle weight loss products are often empty promises,'' the FTC said in its guide. ``Despite their claims, there are no easy ways to lose weight and burn off fat.''
In September 2002 the FTC reported that 55 percent of weight-loss ads included claims that were almost certainly false or misleading. The agency is asking newspapers, broadcasters and cable television stations to avoid running ads for questionable products.
The FTC has brought at least 100 lawsuits since 1990 against companies accused of selling phony weight-loss products.
Muris announced two $1 million settlements Tuesday. One was with Universal Nutrition Corp., which said its ``ThermoSlim'' could help users lose 95 pounds in 60 days while still eating french fries and milkshakes. The other with Harry Siskind, former president of Mark Nutritionals Inc., which claimed its ``Body Solutions Evening Weight Loss Formula'' would cause users to lose weight without diet or exercise.
The FTC announced settlements with the now-defunct company and co-founder Edward DAlessandro Jr. in October.