Lose weight with skin cream? Fat chance, says U.S. govt

Tue Jan 7, 2014 5:34pm EST
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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans putting their faith in miracle cures to shed unwanted pounds are likely to be disappointed, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday in announcing settlements with four firms accused of falsely advertising weight-loss products such as skin creams.

The Federal Trade Commission won agreements from L'Occitane, Inc.; Sensa Products LLC; HCG Diet Direct LLC; and LeanSpa LLC. The settlements required them to drop unsubstantiated claims from their ads and, in some cases, return money to consumers.

The FTC also urged media outlets to scrutinize advertisements more carefully to avoid publishing potentially misleading ads, noting that some of the advertisements for the products - from food supplements to skin creams - appeared in mainstream publications.

The commission provided guidance for publishers and broadcasters on how to screen weight-loss claims in advertisements.

The FTC's action, codenamed "Operation Failed Resolution," was timed to coincide with the vows to lose weight so often made, and quickly abandoned, in January.

Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, warned that the only slim element of the products is their chance of success.

"Resolutions to lose weight are easy to make but hard to keep. 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," Rich said.

One agreement was with Sensa, which said that its powder sprinkled on food would cause weight loss and peddled it on television infomercials, magazine advertisements and online ads.   Continued...