FTC To Aid Media Firms in Crusade Against Phoney Diet Ads

28 January 2003

US media firms are to receive clearer guidelines on screening out fraudulent health and weight loss advertising under a new scheme from the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC wants media firms to do more to block get-thin-quick ads, but recognises that greater guidance is needed to provide such censorship with legal backing. Consequently, the regulator is preparing a list of eight fraudulent claims to watch out for.

“To responsible members of the media, we say again: we need your help,” declared Howard Beales, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Stop selling advertising to the purveyors of pills and patches, potions and lotions that exploit overweight Americans with outrageous claims that you can diet in your dreams and exercise in a bottle.”

He added: “We recognize the need for more guidance and will develop a list of claims that are scientifically unfeasible.”

A recent example is a product called Slim Down, the makers of which are facing a lawsuit from the FTC. Ads for the product allegedly claimed that an ingredient called D-glucosamine absorbs fat, leading to weight loss without diet or exercise.

The list will be issued on February 2.

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