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Supplement Alerts in the News



U.S. Federal Trade Commission

 FTC News Release,  Feb 4, 2004

The “Skinny Pills” Do Not Make You Skinny, Says the FTC

Marketers of the Skinny Pill Settle FTC Charges That They Made False and Unsubstantiated Weight-Loss Claims

The Fountain of Youth Group, LLC, and its principal, Edita Kaye, have settled Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated weight-loss and health claims for their dietary supplement products - Skinny Pill AM, Skinny Sleep PM, Skinny Carbs, and Skinny Pill for Kids (collectively “Skinny Pills”). The proposed settlement, which requires the court’s approval, prohibits the defendants from making any weight-loss or health benefit claims for the Skinny Pills and similar products, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims. The proposed settlement also contains a judgment of $6 million, which has been suspended due to the defendants’ inability to pay.

The FTC filed its complaint in federal district court alleging that the Florida-based defendants advertise their products on the Internet at www.skinnypill.com and through other multimedia advertisements, making claims such as:

“My PM Skinny Sleep works overnight with a thermic formula to burn fat while you sleep . . . to make sure you wake up . . . skinnier than when you went to bed.”

“Skinny Carbs is the miracle that lets you occasionally ‘cheat’ without guilt or added fat pounds. . . . When you eat a carb, Skinny Carbs blocks the starch from being broken down into sugar. . . . Skinny carbs cuts [sic] right into that cycle . . . and prevents starch from turning into sugar and then into fat. Instead, it passes right through our system. The result? We can enjoy our carbs without having them turn into body fat.”

The Skinny Pill for Kids

“This is the FIRST thermic and herbal formula ever developed for weight loss for children 6 to 12 and has been created to help our children win their battle with fat.”

The FTC complaint alleges that the defendants did not have a reasonable basis to substantiate the claims that use of the Skinny Pill AM and the Skinny Sleep PM causes weight loss, increases fat burning, normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels, and causes dietary fat to be passed out of the body before it can be digested; that use of Skinny Carbs blocks the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing them from being converted into fat, and thereby causing weight loss; and that use of Skinny Carbs normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels. The FTC’s complaint also alleges as false the claim that use of the Skinny Pill AM and Skinny Sleep PM causes dietary fat to be passed out of the body before it can be digested, thereby causing substantial weight loss. In addition, the FTC alleges that the defendants’ claims that scientific research establishes the use of the Skinny Pill AM and the Skinny Sleep PM causes weight loss and that use of Skinny Carbs blocks new fat from forming when one eats a starchy meal are false.

The FTC further alleges that the defendants did not have reasonable basis to substantiate the claims that use of the Skinny Pill for Kids for children 6 to 12 years old causes weight loss; causes children to burn increased fat; blocks new fat deposits; normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels; reduces the risk of obesity-related disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes; helps control diabetes and digestive disorders in children; or is safe. Finally, the FTC alleges that the defendants’ claims that scientific research establishes that use of the Skinny Pill for Kids causes weight loss in, or is safe for, children 6 to 12 years old is false.

The proposed stipulated final order prohibits The Fountain of Youth and Kaye from representing, including through the use of names “Skinny Pill” or “Skinny Sleep,” that use of Skinny Pill AM, Skinny Sleep PM, or any substantially similar product causes weight loss, increases fat burning, or normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels, unless these claims are substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Moreover, the defendants are prohibited from representing that use of the Skinny Pill AM, Skinny Sleep PM, or any substantially similar product will cause dietary fat to be passed out of the body before it can be digested, thereby causing substantial weight loss.

With respect to Skinny Carbs or any substantially similar product, the settlement prohibits the defendants from representing, including through the use of the name “Skinny Carbs,” that use of the product blocks the absorption of carbohydrates, preventing them from being converted into fat and thereby causing weight loss, or that use of such product normalizes insulin or blood sugar levels, unless these claims are substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The settlement also prohibits the defendants from representing, including through the use of the name “Skinny Pill,” that use of Skinny Pill For Kids for children 6 to 12 years old or any substantially similar product causes weight loss; increases fat burning; blocks new fat deposits; normalizes insulin and blood sugar levels; reduces the risk of obesity-related disease; controls diabetes and digestive disorders; or is safe, unless these claims are substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The proposed stipulated order further requires The Fountain of Youth LLC and Kaye to possess competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any future representations, including through the use of trade names or endorsements, concerning the absolute or comparative weight loss or other health benefit, performance, safety, or efficacy of any dietary supplement, food, drug, or device; or any program that purports to promote weight loss and that involves the offering for sale or sale of any product or service of the defendants. The order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting the existence, contents, validity, results, conclusions, or interpretations of any test, study, or research.

Finally, the settlement contains various recordkeeping requirements to assist the FTC in monitoring the defendants’ compliance.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint and proposed stipulated final order for permanent injunction was 5-0. The complaint and stipulated final order were filed in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, on January 28, 2004. The stipulated final order requires the court’s approval.

The text in this article was prepared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

 




 

 

 

 

 

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