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FTC cracks down on bogus weight-loss claims

/ Source: The Associated Press

The Federal Trade Commission sued several companies it says promised consumers magical weight-loss regimens that were too good to be true, and it pressed the media outlets that advertised the programs to instead identify and reject them.

It is the first time the agency has paired a court complaint about weight-loss products with letters to media outlets, FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said Tuesday. For now, the FTC is not seeking to punish those media outlets, she added.

"We are having success, a great deal of success, with media companies in educating them about these media ads," Majoras said. "For now, we're not ready to give up."

As part of "Operation Big Fat Lie," the FTC filed six complaints in federal court — and is working with the Maine attorney general on a seventh — challenging ads that promoted such things as pills, powders, green tea, gels and patches for weight loss without diet or exercise.

Media outlets that have grown plump with advertising revenue from the weight-loss industry should make more effort to reject ads for bogus regimens, Platt Majoras said.

The ads ran in Cosmopolitan, Woman's Own, Complete Woman, USA Weekend, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Albuquerque Journal and Spanish-language publications such as TeleRevista Magazine.

The FTC files a complaint when it has "reasons to believe" that the law has been or is being violated and it is acting in the public interest.

The FTC said it filed cases this week against LLC, Iworx LLC and Jeffrey V. Kral of Scarborough, Maine; Feminia Inc. of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; CHK Trading Co. Inc. of New Jersey and CHK Trading Corp. of New York City; Natural Products LLC, All Natural 4 U LLC, and Ana M. Solkamans of Tustin, Calif.; Bronson Partners LLC — doing business as New England Diet Center and Bronson Day Spa — and Martin Howard of Westport, Conn.; AVS Marketing Inc., and William R. Heid, of Thompson, Ill.

The agency also is working with the attorney general's office in Maine, which is filing an additional action against the makers of Slim Patch and Bodylite Gel Patch.