FTC charges diet supplement marketer with deceptive advertising

ID-10012693Weight issues have dogged me all my life. I’ll get on a roll and start getting in shape, but then I run into the holidays and there are so many awesome Tex Mex restaurants around here. If only there were a magic pill that would make you lose weight without exercising and watching your diet…

That fantasy has made a lot of money for businesses over the years, though it hasn’t really licked America’s weight problems. Sometimes the weight loss claims are downright dishonest.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just cracked down on an operation that allegedly took advantage of Americans’ desire to lose weight.

The FTC has sued Kevin Wright of Arizona, who markets HCG Platinum diet products. HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone produced by the human placenta that has been marketed for decades as a weight loss supplement. The FTC says advertising for the products falsely claims they will cause consumers to lose substantial amounts of weight. 

In November 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and FTC sent warning letters to Wright and six other HCG marketers, stating that their HCG products are mislabeled drugs under the FDA Act. The letters warned that it is unlawful under the FTC Act to make weight-loss claims that aren’t supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

Wright and his companies HCG Platinum and Right Way Nutrition, LLC marketed through retailers such as GNC, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, and through their own websites. Wright and his companies promise that HCG Platinum liquid drops will cause rapid and substantial weight loss, and that they will likely lose as much as the endorsers in their ads.

Consumers are directed to place the HCG product under their tongues before meals and stay on a very low-calorie diet of 500 to 800 calories per day. A 30-day supply typically costs between $60 and $149.

Two of the three products are marketed as “homeopathic,” meaning the listed ingredients are diluted to the point of being undetectable. Packaging and other ads claim the products cause weight loss of a pound a day and that they are safe, clinically proven to burn fat, reduce weight, and lower cholesterol.

For more information see the FDA video, Being Fooled by Empty Diet Promises.