FTC sues companies for weight-loss claims, warns media outlets that advertised them

Tuesday, November 9th 2004, 3:02 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government filed six lawsuits against companies it said had promised weight-loss regimens that were too good to be true, and it pressed the publications that advertised the programs to identify and reject them instead.

It was the first time the Federal Trade Commission had paired a court complaint about weight-loss products with letters to media outlets, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said Tuesday. For now, the agency is not seeking to punish those news outlets, she added.

``We are having success, a great deal of success, with media companies in educating them about these media ads,'' Majoras said. ``For now, we're not ready to give up.''

As part of ``Operation Big Fat Lie,'' the FTC filed six complaints in federal court _ and is working with the Maine attorney general on a seventh _ challenging ads that promoted such things as pills, powders, green tea, gels and patches for weight loss without diet or exercise.

Media outlets that have grown plump with advertising revenue from the weight-loss industry should make more effort to reject ads for bogus regimens, Platt Majoras said.

The outlets that advertised them were magazines and newspapers, including: Cosmopolitan, Woman's Own, Complete Woman, USA Weekend, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Albuquerque Journal and Spanish-language publications such as TeleRevista Magazine.

The FTC files a complaint when it has ``reasons to believe'' that the law has been or is being violated and it is acting in the public interest.

The FTC said it filed cases this week against Selfworx.com LLC, Iworx LLC and Jeffrey V. Kral of Scarborough, Maine; Feminia, Inc., of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; CHK Trading Co., Inc., of New Jersey and CHK Trading Corp. of New York City; Natural Products, LLC, All Natural 4 U, LLC, and Ana M. Solkamans of Tustin, Calif.; Bronson Partners, LLC _ doing business as New England Diet Center and Bronson Day Spa _ and Martin Howard, of Westport, Conn.; AVS Marketing, Inc., and William R. Heid, of Thompson, Ill.

The agency also is working with the attorney general's office in Maine, which is filing an additional action against the makers of Slim Patch and Bodylite Gel Patch.