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FTC cracks down on deceptive advertising
On Jan. 7, the Federal Trade Commission announced an initiative to stop national marketers from using deceptive advertising claims for fad weight-loss products. The commission took aim at four national marketers of products ranging from food additives and skin creams to dietary supplements, resulting in a $34 million penalty.
The initiative is part of the commission’s “ongoing effort to stop misleading claims for products promoting easy weight loss and slimmer bodies.” One marketer claimed consumers could “sprinkle, eat, and lose weight” with their product. However, the Federal Trade Commission charged marketers deceived consumers with unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements. In another case involving the marketer of the hormone hCG, the commission barred deceptive future claims that liquid homeopathic hCG drops would “cause consumers to rapidly lose substantial weight.”
Before you invest in diet plans or products, consumers should do the following:
•Consult your doctor or health-care provider. Certain supplements and ingredients can be potentially dangerous when mixed with medications or if someone is pregnant, nursing, or has a pre-existing health condition. Always consult with your doctor first.
•Research the supplement. The Food and Drug Administration is a great resource for researching supplements and their ingredients. Additional information on product claims, the safety and effectiveness of the product, as well as any reports of adverse effects can be acquired directly from the product manufacturer or distributor.
•Be cautious of too-good-to-be-true claims. If a product is touting exaggerated claims or instant fixes, this is a red flag.
•Be extra diligent when searching products on the Web. When searching for information about supplements online, use respected websites such as those run by the government, university research, or reputable medical databases rather than just doing a quick search through a search engine.
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