FTC Boss Steps Up War on Bogus Diet Ads

13 February 2003

Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy Muris is calling on America’s media firms to seek out “truthful advertising” as his crusade against misleading get-thin-quick ads hots up.

Muris told the Cable Television Advertising Bureau that health ads making patently bogus claims appear in “all forms of media, with the notable exception of network TV.” Media owners, he declared, must help root these out.

“We all have a shared stake in promoting truthful advertising,” he added. “Profit and prosperity are not at odds with ethical advertising.”

Last month the FTC revealed it is preparing clearer guidelines for media companies over what constitutes fraudulent health and diet advertising [WAMN: 28-Jan-03]. It is compiling a list of “scientifically unfeasible” claims common in such ads.

“The FTC released a report that analyzed 300 weight loss ads that ran in 2001,” Muris continued. “We found rampant use of false or misleading claims. Almost 40% made a claim that was obviously false, another 15% made at least one claim that was likely to be false or unsubstantiated.”

Data sourced from: BrandWeek.com; additional content by WARC staff