FTC Targets Bogus Weight-loss Claims; Several Herbal Products Mentioned

(Silver Spring, MD) -- The Federal Trade Commission yesterday unveiled its latest effort aimed at false weight-loss advertising claims. “Operation Big Fat Lie” consists of three programs, including enforcement, consumer education, and direct communication with newspapers and magazines to encourage their support in refusing “bogus” ads for weight loss.

In announcing this new action, FTC highlighted its enforcement program by filing complaints against six companies that allegedly used at least one of the seven weight-loss claims that the Commission had identified as not scientifically feasible when it initiated its “Red Flag” education campaign last December. These complaints identify ads placed in several national newspapers and magazines for a variety of products, including dietary supplements, drink mixes, topical gels and creams, and diet patches. The dietary supplement products cited include one product containing several Ayurvedic herbs, and three others with the botanical ingredients green tea extract (Camellia sinensis) and umbrella arum root (a.k.a. “konjac;” Amorphophallus konjac).

The consumer education element of “Operation Big Fat Lie” was also launched yesterday, and consists of a “teaser” web site that appears to advertise a new pill promising to help consumers “Lose up to 10 pounds per week – with no sweat, no starvation!” The site is actually a link to an FTC warning about diet rip-offs. The FTC's teaser site is online at: http://www.wemarket4u.net/fatfoe.

“Over the past few years, the American Herbal Products Association has worked closely with FTC to develop advertising guidelines for weight-loss products,” said AHPA President Michael McGuffin. “But only FTC has the authority to enforce the law, and these ongoing efforts protect both consumers and responsible herbal product manufacturers who do have useful products to offer.”

Details of yesterday’s FTC activities are at the FTC website: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/11/bigfatliesweep.htm. The previously identified “Red Flag” claims are also on the FTC website: http://www.ftc.gov/redflag.


The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal supplement industry, the only trade association devoted solely to herbal issues. AHPA is the recognized leader in representing the responsible center of the botanical trade, and is comprised of the finest growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbal products. AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. AHPA committees generate self-regulations to ensure the highest level of responsibility with respect to the way herbs are manufactured, labeled and sold. Website: www.ahpa.org

Karen Robin, Director of Communications
American Herbal Products Association
Telephone: 301-588-1171 x107
Fax: 301-588-1174

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