May 23, 2005
FTC Survey Shows Drop in False Weight-Loss Claims
The number ofobviously false weight-loss claims made in television, radio and printadvertisements decreased significantly from 2001 to 2004, according to a FederalTrade Commission (FTC) staff report (www.ftc.gov/reports/index.htm). The 2004Weight-Loss Advertising Survey found only 15 percent of weight-loss adsreviewed in 2004 were false, compared to almost 50 percent of ads reviewed in2001.
The 2004 staff report reviewed a sample of 293 ads from various media,including tabloids, newspapers, television, infomercials, radio and magazines(which provided the largest number of ads surveyed). Of these ads, 91 percentwere for dietary supplements.
After releasing its original 2001 findings, FTC asked the media tovoluntarily screen ads for weight-loss products such as dietary supplements,topical creams and diet patches to help curb the incidence of deceptiveadvertising. Publishers and producers were urged to reject ads containingstatements on FTCs list of red flag claims, which tout results notscientifically feasible for over-the-counter weight-loss products. In 2003, the agency released an updated list, Red Flags: Bogus Weight-Loss Claims.
Five percent of 2004 ads contained the common red flag claim that users couldlose 2 lbs/wk or more without altering caloric intake or exercise. In 2001, 43percent of ads made that claim.
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