A look at companies behind bogus weight loss fads

AP News
Posted: Jan 07, 2014 3:25 PM

The Federal Trade Commission announced $34 million in settlements Tuesday with four companies accused of using deceptive advertising to sell unproven weight loss products. Here's a look at the companies and the terms of settlement:

— Sensa: Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Sensa claimed that its powder-based food additive could help customers lose weight without diet or exercise. According to the FTC, the company's print, radio, television and online ads claimed the powder enhanced the flavor of food, leading users to eat less. The company will pay $26.5 million to resolve FTC charges that its marketing claims were not supported by scientific evidence.

— L'Occitane Inc.: The international beauty products supplier claimed its Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight creams could help slim waistlines and fight cellulite. The company's ads claimed both products would produce a "slimmer, firmer" figure. The Luxembourg-based firm will pay $450,000 under the FTC settlement.

— LeanSpa: Connecticut-based LeanSpa LLC used fake news websites to promote its acai berry and "colon cleanse" weight loss products. The fake websites used online addresses designed to resemble legitimate news sites, including channel8health.com, dailyhealth6.com, and online6health.com. LeanSpa has agreed to surrender assets worth an estimated $7.3 million, according to the FTC.

— HCG Diet Direct: The Arizona-based company marketed liquid drops of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, which is produced by the human placenta and found in the urine of pregnant women. The company advertised the products on YouTube and via its website, charging $200 for a 40-day supply of HCG Diet Direct Drops. The FTC and the FDA warned the company as early as November 2011 that its weight loss claims ran afoul of federal law. The government's $3.2 million fine against the company was suspended because HCG cannot pay the amount.