Sensa and Three Other Marketers of Fad Weight-Loss Products Settle FTC Charges

Sensa and Three Other Marketers of Fad Weight-Loss Products Settle FTC Charges
Image: Pixabay
January 07, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a law enforcement initiative stopping national marketers that used deceptive advertising claims to peddle fad weight-loss products, from food additives and skin cream to dietary supplements.

'Operation Failed Resolution' is part of the FTC's ongoing effort to stop misleading claims for products promoting easy weight loss and slimmer bodies. The marketers of Sensa—who exhorted consumers to "sprinkle, eat, and lose weight"—will pay $26.5 million to settle FTC charges that they deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements. The FTC will make these funds available for refunds to consumers who bought Sensa.

The FTC also announced charges against the marketers of two other products that made unfounded promises:

  • L'Occitane, which claimed that its skin cream would slim users' bodies but had no science to back up that claim.
  • HCG Diet Direct, which marketed an unproven human hormone that has been touted by hucksters for more than half a century as a weight-loss treatment.

The agency also announced a partial settlement in a fourth case against LeanSpa, LLC, an operation that allegedly deceptively promoted acai berry and "colon cleanse" weight-loss supplements through fake news websites.

"Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep," said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "And the chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food, rubbing cream on your thighs, or using a supplement are slim to none. The science just isn't there."

In total, the weight-loss marketers will pay approximately $34 million for consumer redress. In addition to the $26.5 million to be paid by Sensa, L'Occitane, Inc. will pay $450,000, and the LeanSpa settling defendants will surrender assets totalling an estimated $7.3 million. The judgment against the HCG Diet Direct defendants is suspended due to their inability to pay.

Consumers should always carefully evaluate advertising claims for weight-loss products. For additional information, see the FTC's guidance for consumers of products and services advertised for Weight Loss & Fitness.