FTC Praises Media for Diet-Claim Reductions


According to the Federal Trade Commission, its "red-flag" policy targeting spurious diet claims is working, with an assist from the media.

FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras Wednesday praised a partnership with TV stations and cable operators, and other media aimed at eliminating fraudulent diet ads.

Majoras acknowledged that many questionable diet products continue to be marketed on cable and other outlets, but said that increasingly, those ads are careful to point out that diet and exercise are required for weight loss. "It's still crappy product," she says, "but at least fewer advertisers are telling people they don't have to cut calories and don't need to get off the couch."

Since the FTC in 2003 began asking media outlets to reject ads with facially false diet claims [i.e.: "melt the pounds away without diet or exercise"] and to report the marketers to the commission, the number of fraudulent claims in diet ads have fallen from almost half of all diet ads to 15%, Majoras says.

"We think the media should be proud," she said during a private lunch with the staff of Good Housekeeping magazine in New York Wednesday.

A full report on the "red flag" program is due later this month.