Stay Away from FiberWeigh

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
September 18, 2004

FiberWeigh is marketed by Maximizer Health Products of Pasadena, California, which also does business as Evita Labs. FiberWeigh is promoted through 30-minute infomercial which claims that it can bring about weight loss of two pounds a week or more “without dieting, changing eating habits, or even exercising.” The product contains glucomannan, a soluble fiber that absorbs water. According to the infomercial, two or three capsules, taken before meals, swell enough within the stomach to make the user feel full and therefore eat less and lose weigh automatically. I do not believe that this claim is true. In addition, there is evidence that the company is not honoring its money-back guarantee.

The infomercial and company Web site claim that Fiberweigh capsules expand to fill about a third of the stomach as shown in the picture to the right. However, a simple experiment I performed showed that the picture is misleading. The volume of the adult stomach is 1.5 to 4 liters (1500 to 4000 cc). When I placed two capsules in water, the contents expanded to only about 15 cc. I don’t see how this amount could make anyone feel full. Even if it could, it might not work because many people continue to eat after they feel full.

During the infomercial, a company representative drops 2 capsules of FiberWeigh into a beaker containing what looks like about 200 cc of water. Instead of letting the audience see what happens, he immediately displays another beaker containing a semisolid gel that holds its shape when he tilts the beaker a shown in the picture to the left. To examine the demonstration’s validity, I poured the contents of 2 capsules into 200 cc of water and swirled it around every few minutes. After 15 minutes, the fluid became a little cloudy but did not thicken. Further testing produced no change with 6 capsules and some thickening with 10 capsules, but 12 capsules were required to simulate the thickness shown in the infomercial demonstration.

The company promises to refund the customer’s money if the product is returned unopened. However, on consumer complaint Web sites, several buyers have described how the company gave them excuses instead of money. My own experience supports what they say. When I first saw the infomercial, it offered a free bottle for a shipping charge of $2.95. However, in order to qualify, it was necessary to place a standing order for two bottles a month with the understanding that the order could be canceled at any time. My free bottle came promptly; and three weeks later two more bottles arrived with a notice that my credit card had been charged for $36.90. I phoned the company to cancel future orders and returned the unopened bottles via UPS so that the arrival of my package would be documented. Maximizer Health Products acknowledged my cancellation and said I would receive a refund. But instead of issuing a credit, the company asked me to fill out a form that requested the same information I had sent with the package plus the reason for the return. Credit card companies normally reverse charges if the cardholder submits a valid complaint to them within 60 days after receiving the credit card statement. I suspected that Maximizer Health Products sent the form to keep me thinking that a refund would come so that I would not complain to my credit card company during the 60-day period. I returned the form, but I also sent my credit company a copy of the acknowledgement, so it issued an immediate chargeback. The online complainers apparently did not do this and thus were unable to reverse their charge. Others must have complained to the Better Business Bureau, which has given Maximizer Health Products an unsatisfactory rating.

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This article was posted on September 18, 2004.