Federal Trade Commission Cracks Down on Weight Loss Companies - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Federal Trade Commission Cracks Down on Weight Loss Companies

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Weight loss is a common new year's resolution. And the Federal Trade Commission ran a crack down called "Operation Failed Resolution" that might prevent some hopeful dieters from getting duped.

The FTC has fined four weight companies a total of $34 million dollars for deceptive advertising.

The biggest payout was by a company called "Sensa," which promises their customers guaranteed weight loss simply by sprinkling the Sensa product onto the food the food they eat. Sensa settled and paid a fine of $26 million.

Another well-known company is HGC Diet Direct, which incorporates human hormones in with a low-calorie diet to enhance weight loss. The company was fined $3 million, but it was unable to pay the fines.

L'Occitane was fined $7 million in cash and assets for their almond slimming cream, and LeanSpa was fined about $300,000 for their acai berry colon cleanse supplement. Both products did not prove to deliver the promised results.

"There's really not a lot of regulation that goes along with supplements. So be very cautious. People spend a lot of money on supplements that are potentially just making their urine more expensive," said Leslie Lawton, a dietitian at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie.

While advertising companies do have some leeway in their content, there are certain lines that can't be crossed.

"The defendants in this case made at least two significant mistakes. One was, they made specific health related claims. When you do that, you enter into regulated territory by the FDA. The other thing they did that got into trouble - they went specifically to mislead the consumer," said Eric Purchase, Civil Litigation Attorney at Purchase & Green in Erie.

Sensa even paid some of their customer testimonials $1000-$5000 per endorsement.

The four companies fined now cannot claim their products aid in weight loss unless they have at least two clinical trials supporting the claims.

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