Consumer Health Digest #04-45

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 9, 2004

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer

FTC blasts more diet-pill frauds. The Federal Trade Commission has launched "Operation Big Fat Lie," a nationwide sweep against six companies making false weight-loss claims in national advertisements. The attack is the latest in the Commission's efforts to: stop deceptive advertising and provide refunds to consumers harmed by unscrupulous weight-loss advertisers; encourage media outlets not to carry advertisements containing bogus weight-loss claims; and warn consumers about companies promising miraculous weight loss without diet or exercise. [FTC Launches "Big Fat Lie" initiative targeting bogus weight-loss claims. FTC news release, Nov 9, 2004] The challenged ads ran in publications such as Cosmopolitan; Woman's Own, Complete Woman, USA Weekend, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Albuquerque Journal, and in Spanish-language publications, such as TeleRevista Magazine. In each of the cases, the FTC charged that the defendants used at least one of the seven bogus weight-loss claims that are part of the FTC's "Red Flag" education campaign announced in December 2003.

Defendants  Challenged Claims LLC, Iworx LLC, and Jeffrey V. Kral, of Scarborough, Maine

gel-ä-thin, a topical gel, (1) causes weight loss of as much as 21 pounds in six weeks; (2) dissolves fat deposits in days; and (3) dissolves and removes cellulite from the body.

Ultra LipoLean, an alleged "fat blocker," causes weight loss as great as four pounds per week, without dieting; and two tablets absorb 20 to 30 grams of fat from a meal.

Femina, Inc., of Pembroke Pines, Florida, and its owner, Husnain Mirza

1-2-3 Reduce Fat includes a diet pill, a corset, and a seaweed gel to put on the body. Supposedly the pill blocks 40% of the absorption of fat and the gel, when rubbed into the skin, eliminates inches of fat.

Siluette Patch: (a) causes substantial weight loss when worn on the body; (b) causes rapid weight loss with no dietary changes; (c) eliminates cellulite and controls metabolism; and (d) eliminates accumulated fat.

Fat Seltzer Reduce: (a) causes rapid and permanent weight loss; (b) causes fat to be absorbed and eliminated fast and easily through the urine; and (c) causes weight loss without the need to diet.

CHK Trading Co., Inc., based in New Jersey, and CHK Trading Corp., based in New York City., and their principal, Chong Kim, Rubbing "Hanmeilin Cellulite Cream" into the body causes substantial and permanent weight loss of as much as 10 to 95 pounds; and eliminates fat and cellulite.
Natural Products, LLC; All Natural 4 U, LLC; and Ana M. Solkamans, of Tustin, California Bio Trim: (a) causes users to lose substantial weight, while eating unlimited amounts of food; (b) causes substantial weight loss by blocking the absorption of fat or calories; (c) works for all overweight users; and (d) is clinically proven to cause rapid and substantial weight loss without reducing calories.
Bronson Partners, LLC, (dba New England Diet Center and Bronson Day Spa), and Martin Howard, based in Westport, Connecticut

Chinese Diet Tea (a) "neutralizes" the absorption of fattening foods, (b) enables users to lose as much as six pounds per week over multiple weeks and months without the need to diet or exercise; (c) enables users to lose substantial weight while enjoying their favorite foods; (d) blocks the absorption of fat and calories; and (e) causes substantial weight loss for all users,

Bio-Slim Patch causes rapid and substantial weight loss without the need to exercise or diet; and causes substantial weight loss when worn on the body.

AVS Marketing, Inc., and William R. Heid, based in Thomson, Illinois Himalayan Diet Breakthrough, said to contain Nepalese Mineral Pitch, prevents the formation of body fat and causes weight loss of as much as 37 pounds in 8 weeks, without limiting food intake or increasing exercise.

In addition to the cases announced today, the Commission has filed lawsuits against seven other companies since April 2004 for making similarly false Red Flag weight-loss claims. An FTC official said that the campaign has cut misleading advertising by about half. The defendants are:

FTC sets up "teaser" site. As part of its educational efforts, the FTC is promoting "Fat Foe Eggplant Extract" to consumers who surf online for weight-loss products. At first glance, the site appears to advertise a new pill promising to help consumers "Lose up to 10 pounds per week - with no sweat, no starvation!" However, when viewers venture beneath the home page or try to order the product, they learn that the ad is actually a consumer education piece posted by the FTC to warn against diet rip-offs.

Maine Attorney General attacks more weight-loss frauds. Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe has filed suit against two Maine companies and their executives for unfair and deceptive trade practices in marketing alleged weight-loss patch products called Slim Patch and Bodylite Gel Patch. The defendants are: Brewer-based Integra Direct LLC; its president Vincent Wank; Scarborough-based Infinity Marketing LLC; and Gregory Fletcher, who ran Infinity Marketing with Wank. The Attorney General's complaint alleges that the defendants: (a) falsely represented that their products caused substantial weight loss with little or no dieting or exercise; and (b) failed to honor money-back guarantees, made unauthorized credit card charges, and falsely represented that they were offering a limited-time reduction in price to consumers who agreed to purchase their products that same day. [AG Rowe, federal authorities work to expose "the big fat lie." AG press release, Nov 9, 2004]

Nutrition certification board ignores legitimate complaints. The Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists (CBNS) has ignored repeated complaints that one of its diplomates, Robert Pastore, does not have an accredited degree. CBNS, founded in 1993, is the certification arm of the American College of Nutrition, whose president, Harry Preuss, M.D., is professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. "Dr. Pastore" does consultations in the offices of CBNS board member Ronald Hoffman, M.D., of New York City, who promotes and a wide array of dubious diagnostic and treatment methods. CBNS certification is said to require an advanced degree from an accredited school. However, Pastore's "nutrition" degrees -- a B.S. in March 1995, an M.S. in August 1995, and a Ph.D. in May 1996 -- came from American Holistic College of Nutrition, a nonaccredited correspondence school in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Stephen Barrett has complained three times to Dr. Preuss and to CBNS's coordinator Pearl Small. Neither has replied, and no corrective action appears to have been taken.

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This page was revised on November 10, 2004.