FTC Attempts To Curb Misleading Weight-Loss Claims 37340

October 21, 2002

2 Min Read
FTC Attempts To Curb Misleading Weight-Loss Claims

FTC Attempts To Curb Misleading Weight-Loss Claims

WASHINGTON--On Sept. 17, the Federal TradeCommission (FTC) reported that in a 2001 review of 300 weight-loss ads promoting218 different products, 55 percent had at least one false or unsubstantiatedclaim. For its report, Weight-Loss Advertising: An Analysis of Current Trends,FTC reviewed ads from TV, radio, newspapers, direct mail, commercial e-mail andWeb sites; the commission also compared weight-loss ads from eight nationalmagazines published in 1992 and 2001.

Dietary supplements constitute the majority of productscurrently being sold in weight-loss ads; in 1992, meal replacement products hadbeen the most advertised. The agency stated half of the ads they reviewedpromoted products that were "safe," with 71 percent of these adsclaiming products were "all natural."

FTC has also launched a Web site (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/fitness)with consumer, trade and press information regarding deceptive weight-lossadvertising. FTC also has information on how to spot questionable exerciseequipment ads, such as those for electronic abdominal exercise belts.

Annette Dickinson, Ph.D., vice president of scientific andregulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, stated that FTC waswithin its rights to release this report. "FTC has made it clear that thereare some completely outrageous claims out there, and I think FTC is quite rightin moving against those claims," she said. "I think it's always ashame when companies aren't abiding by their obligation to substantiate claims.... There are, however, products in both the dietary supplement and food areasthat do not fall into that outrageous category."

FTC also announced that it would hold a workshop on Nov. 19 toexplore alternate approaches for reducing deceptive claims in advertising forweight-loss products. The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at FTC'sheadquarters at 6000 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. The meeting willfeature panels of public health officials, medical professionals, researchers,advertising executives, media experts and members of the weight-loss industry.Written comments must be filed on or before Oct. 29 via the Federal Register(www.access.gpo.gov).

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