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Feds to Bust Deceptive Weight-Loss Ads

8/22 9:20:46

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a new law-enforcement initiative that will entail them seriously cracking down on misleading advertisements for weight-loss products. It's called "Operation Failed Resolution," and it's part of the FTC's larger goal to stop deceptive advertising campaigns that promise consumers easy weight loss.

Operation Failed Resolution is taking legal action against four big companies, all of which falsely promise easy weight loss in their advertisements. "The claims simply aren't supported by the evidence," Jessica Rich, the director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said at the press conference this morning. "We are not banning the products—we are saying that they can't make false claims about [them]."

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Here are the four companies the FTC is cracking down on:
Sensa is a flavored powder that's supposed to cause weight loss when you sprinkle it on your food—without any change in diet or exercise. The company's advertisements claim that the powder enhances the smell and taste of your food, making you feel full faster and therefore eat less. The ads also claim that a scientific study about the product proves that you can lose up to 30 pounds in six months.

The FTC says that the study was based on fabricated data and was too controlled by Sensa to be characterized as independent. They are charging Sensa's creator, Alan Hirsch, with failure to disclose information. As a result, Sensa now owes $26.5 million to the FTC in claims, and the FTC will make that money available to consumers for refunds.

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The advertisements for two of this company's popular almond skin creams, Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight, claim that they are clinically proven to slim your body. Specifically, they promise to fight cellulite and to trim 1.3 inches off of users' thighs.

The FTC says that the two studies the claims are based on are flawed, so L'Occitane now owes $450,000 in claims to the FTC.

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HCG Diet Direct
This company produces liquid homeopathic hCG drops, called hCG Diet Direct Drops, and promises that they help consumers rapidly lose weight—up to 40 pounds in 40 days.

However, the FTC says that HCG Diet Direct failed to provide studies that support such dramatic claims. They also found that the company made other false claims, including the fact that its diet drops are FDA-approved (they're not). 

Lean Spa LLC
This is a dietary supplement marketing company, and they ran advertisements that promised people could lose 25 pounds in four weeks by using some of their products, like Nutrislim, without making any other specific diet or exercise changes.

The FTC charged the company with using fake news websites to promote the effectiveness of their products and with telling consumers that they could receive free trials of the products just by paying shipping and handling. If approved, the settlement requires that Lean Spa pay the FTC up to $7 million in claims.

Hopefully, these moves will encourage companies to stop making false claims about weight-loss products. You can find out more about Operation Failed Resolution at the FTC's website.

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