FTC: Weight-Loss Products Companies to Pay Up Over Bogus Claims

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 05:09 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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Four companies that make weight-loss products, including Sensa, have settled with the FTC after the government watchdog alleged that claims on their products weren’t accurate.

In a press release Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission said its “Operation Failed Resolution” was designed to stop national marketers from using deceptive advertising claims to sell weight-loss products.

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Sensa agreed to pay $26.5 million to settle after being charged with deceiving consumers with “unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements,” the release said. Those funds will be available as a refund to consumers who bought Sensa products.

Also included in the settlements were L’Occitane, which sells a skin cream that the company said would “slim users’ bodies but had no science to back up that claim,” the FTC said, and HCG Diet Direct, which marketed a human hormone product that isn’t proven to lose weight.

A partial settlement was reached in a case against LeanSpa LLC, which marketed weight-loss supplements using fake news websites, the release said.

“Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in the release. “And 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. The science just isn’t there.”

In addition to what Sensa will pay, L’Occitane will pay $450,000 and LeanSpa will surrender assets totaling $7.3 million, while the HCG Diet Direct defendants judgement is suspended because the company can’t pay, the FTC release said.

Along with the release about settlements, the FTC put out a separate release offering guidance to media outlets to use in determining if weight-loss drugs have suspicious claims. A new document, “Gut Check: A Reference Guide for Media on Spotting False Weight-Loss Claims,” should help media spot seven weight-loss claims that can’t be true.

The FTC has also put out information for consumers on fake weight-loss claims.

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