Senate Weight-Loss Hearing & The FTC's Gut Check Claims

by Bill McClellan on Jun 19, 2014 10:48:00 AM Advocacy

Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce Sub-Committee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance held a hearing titled “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products.” This hearing was designed to be a follow-up to the Federal Trade Commission’s update of its guidance for publishers and broadcasters on how to spot phony weight-loss claims when screening advertising for publication.

Mary Engle of the Federal Trade Commission testified about the FTC’s “Operation Failed Resolution” targeting new weight-loss fads. The FTC believes that there are seven weight-loss claims that can’t be true and should prompt a “gut check.”

We strongly encourage marketers, broadcasters, and publishers to review the FTC’s 7 “Gut Check” weight-loss claims. ERA has long supported the FTC's efforts on weight-lossadvertising, and encourages you to closely follow this important guidance.   

This was a significant hearing, and ERA actively participated on your behalf through our written testimony and strategic coverage from our lobbying firm, Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. 

More importantly, ERA was publicly lauded in testimony as one of the two trade associations that “have stepped forward to provide the types of no-strings-attached funding that allows CBBB to do its impartial monitoring and decision making” in this area. Moreover, the “trade associations whose members include representatives of the weight-loss industry need to follow the examples set by the ERA” in support of self-regulatory monitoring. This exchange occurred during Lee Peeler’s testimony, who as President and CEO of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council testified on behalf of the larger self-regulatory community.   

Dr. Oz was the celebrity panelist at the hearing and unsurprisingly became the focal point due to his celebrity status. Much of the question-and-answer period of the hearing revolved around his role in the dissemination of “miracle” weight-loss products. A representative example of the ensuing media coverage can be found here.

Fortunately, through the work of our self-regulatory program ERSP, our industry was spared from the brunt of the negative attention. ERSP offers the industry an expeditious system for review of advertising that contains egregious and unsubstantiated claims, and demonstrates the strong commitment of marketers to meaningful and effective self-regulation. 

Please contact Bill McClellan at 703.908.1032 or if you would like more information about this effort, or if you are interested in how the ERSP self-regulatory program can be of assistance.  Working together, we can ensure a future with a more vibrant and healthy marketplace for all.

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