FTC Declares Diet Claims Have No Weight
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/24/2002 7:00:00 PM
Reading this story will take pounds and inches off effortlessly. If you believe that, the FTC wants to set you straight.
According to FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Deputy Director Lee Peeler, both the commission and the media are trying to do a better job of wising up the public on bogus health claims.
The cable industry last week expressed its willingness to work with the FTC to get the word out on questionable dietary and health-supplement claims, including providing more consumer-education information. According to Peeler, that pledge came at an FTC workshop last week on diet and health-supplement ads. It also came in the wake of a $3 million fine levied on the marketers of Blue Stuff pain relievers for unsupported claims in their TV infomercials and other marketing.
The FTC is working on a list of "false phrases" that are almost certainly unsupportable claims, should raise red flags with consumers and the media and could land marketers in hot water.
Among the phrases: 1) that the use of the advertised product will cause consumers to lose a substantial amount of weight without reducing their caloric intake and/or increasing their physical activity; 2) that the use of the advertised product will cause consumers to lose a substantial amount of weight while still enjoying unlimited amounts of high-calorie foods; 3) that consumers can lose a substantial amount of weight through the use of the advertised product that is applied to the body or rubbed into the skin (e.g., wraps, patches, belts, clips, or creams); 4) that the use of the advertised product will cause consumers to lose weight preferentially only from those parts of the body for which they wish to lose weight; 5) that consumers can lose a substantial amount of weight through the use of the product advertised to block or absorb fat or calories; 6) that the advertised product will cause a substantial amount of weight loss for all users; 7) that the advertised product will cause permanent weight loss; or 8) that the use of the advertised product will cause consumers safely to lose more than 3 pounds per week for a period of more than four weeks.
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