The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the dietary supplement industry’s leading trade association, demonstrated the responsible industry’s commitment to combat deceptive advertising of weight loss products in testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. The hearing was titled, “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.”
In his remarks, Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, addressed the current weight loss market as part of the ongoing tale of two industries with “legitimate manufacturers who responsibly produce products that work and make claims for their products within the bounds of the law, and unscrupulous players who prey on consumer desperation and the insatiable desire to be thin, and will say almost anything to make a quick profit.”
Acknowledging weight management as a critical issue in the United States, Mr. Mister pointed to the fact that there are dietary supplements that can serve as helpful weight loss tools when used in combination with other healthy habits. He emphasized that, in their pursuit to achieve a healthy weight, consumers deserve to receive “truthful, accurate and non-misleading information on dietary supplements and nutritional products.”
Mr. Mister presented CRN’s industry-wide program with the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ National Advertising Division (NAD), which helps self-police the advertising claims of dietary supplement marketers, as an example of CRN’s commitment to prevent dietary supplement marketers from making fraudulent claims. Part of the solution to deceptive advertising of weight loss products is “expanding and strengthening self-policing programs among manufacturers and marketers within the industry,” like the NAD initiative, said Mr. Mister, and CRN is well equipped to continue to lead the responsible industry in such efforts.
However, in addition to expanding self-regulatory programs, Mr. Mister emphasized that more must be done to protect consumers, “who unrealistically yearn for a magic bullet,” including increasing resources and enforcement by both the FTC and FDA; calling on the media and online retailers to conduct advertising clearance and reject those with illegal claims; and finally, educating consumers on how to have realistic expectations for weight loss and protect themselves from weight loss claims that are too good to be true.