Diet Supplement Manufacturers Fined Millions of Dollars for Promoting Products Using Deceptive Claims
Connecticut Better Business Bureau and federal regulators are warning consumers about the dangers of phony “weight loss” supplements that promise unrealistic results.
As the end of the year draws closer, common New Year’s resolutions include adopting a healthier lifestyle and losing weight. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans spend billions of dollars a year on supplements, food and devices, hoping they will magically melt away unwanted pounds. Some of these products also promise to fight disease and improve cognitive abilities.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says these supplements do not live up to their promises, and instead of burning fat, weight products can burn a hole in consumers’ pockets.
“The available evidence about weight loss supplements is that they do not deliver on their promises and also pose significant dangers to people who use them,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.
“Regulators have found supplements that are tainted as well as hundreds of products containing traces of active ingredients from unsafe prescription medications, some of which were pulled off the market or not adequately tested in clinical trials.”
The FDA says some of the products’ ingredients include cardiovascular medicine, anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medication and antidepressants. The regulator says these products - including ones claiming to contain only natural ingredients –can contain elements that are not related to weight loss. Compounds in these products can have dangerous interactions with common prescription medications.
The FDA says it has received numerous reports of harm related to weight loss supplements including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart palpitations, stroke, seizures and death.
The FTC has won multi-million dollar fines against some weight loss manufacturers for false advertising, and offering “free trials” that resulted in repeated and unwanted charges on customers’ credit cards.
Some of these products’ ads contain endorsements supposedly from news organizations and magazines such as Men’s Health and Good Housekeeping. In addition, some of the marketing claims celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Paula Deen and Dr. Oz have used the supplements, however, the regulator alleges the celebrities never endorsed the products.
So-called “miracle” weight loss products are heavily advertised on websites and social media, and use testimonials that claim the supplements can help users lose 23 pounds in five weeks without changes in diet or exercise. The FTC says some of these products’ ads falsely claim dramatic weight loss results supported by clinical studies.
Weight loss requires burning more calories than are consumed, and that translates into a healthier diet and exercise.
There are legitimate medical treatments and prescription medications to promote weight loss that are overseen by physicians. Before buying any supplements or starting a new exercise regimen, consult your doctor.