The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement with Body Wise International, Inc., settling charges that the Carlsbad, California company made deceptive weight-loss and cholesterol-reduction claims for its nutritional supplements. The settlement prohibits Body Wise from making false claims that a food, drug, or nutritional supplement helps users achieve or maintain weight loss without diet or exercise. It also bars unsubstantiated weight-loss, weight-loss maintenance, cholesterol-reduction, or other health-benefits claims for such products. The Commission’s action makes the consent order provisions binding on the respondents.
Under the final order, Body Wise is prohibited from making health-benefits claims—including weight-loss or cholesterol reduction claims—for any such products unless the claims are true and supported by adequate scientific substantiation. (The order would permit Body Wise to make any representations permitted under Food and Drug Administration nutrition labeling regulations.) Further, Body Wise is prohibited from falsely representing that any nutritional supplement, food or drug contains any ingredient that can cause or contribute to achieving or maintaining weight loss without diet or exercise.
In addition, the settlement prohibits the respondent from misrepresenting the existence, contents, validity, or results of any tests or studies in connection with marketing any nutritional supplement, food or drug.
The settlement also prohibits the respondent from representing that any endorsement or testimonial for any nutritional supplement, food or drug represents the typical or ordinary experience of users unless it has evidence to support that the experience is, in fact, typical.
Further, the settlement requires Body Wise to disclose, clearly and prominently, any material connection between the company and the endorser. Body Wise is prohibited from disseminating any advertisement containing references to physicians or other health care professionals unless it clearly discloses that physicians or health care professionals who endorse Body Wise’s products may be distributors with a financial interest in promoting the sale of the products.
Finally, the proposed settlement includes various reporting requirements that would assist the FTC in monitoring the respondent’s compliance.
The consent agreement was announced for a public-comment period on June 6. The Commission vote to issue it in final form was 5-0.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agreement was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release and of the complaint and final order are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 202-326-2502. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov.
(FTC File No. 932 3077)
(FTC Docket No. C-3617) (bodywise-2)
This article was posted on March 15, 1999..