Who wouldn’t buy a pill whose researchers claim that consumers can “eat all they want and still lose weight”? If it sounds like magic, it’s probably because it’s too good to be true, and the issues at stake in this particular case of Salt Lake City commercial litigation involving a weight-loss product diverge between a consumer’s application of common sense and whether or not a company’s claim was in violation of regulatory agreements with the Federal Trade Commission.
Seven years ago the FTC filed a lawsuit against Basic Research the company behind two weight-loss products with claims that appear, well, somewhat magical. Claiming that Basic Research didn’t abide by a previous regulator agreement with the FTC by making claims that were too good to be true. Such claims are deceptive to the public and provide false information to consumers, the lawsuit alleges. But interestingly, in this case of Salt Lake City commercial litigation between the feds and the private company, a judge ruled in favor of the weight-loss producers, acknowledging that “while the FTC’s role is to ensure advertising claims are adequately supported, ‘implicit in that role, however, is the expectation of reasonableness.’”
Basically, don’t be daft. The pills aren’t magic. If it sounds too good to be true: it is. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups isn’t buying the FTC’s claim that the marketing is deceptive—just that people who believe it are unreasonable. That’s not the whole story in this case of Salt Lake City commercial litigation brought on by the FTC though. Apparently they’re claiming that Basic Research’s scientific evidence in support of their weight-loss product claims were flawed, and thus, again, in violation of an agreement signed by both Basic Research and the FTC.
But again Judge Waddoups found this claim to fall short of its aims. Waddoups found that “the FTC’s expert used a higher standard to evaluate scientific studies on the company’s products than were required either by the 2006 agreement between the parties or by an earlier ruling in the case.”
The two products under FTC scrutiny were Akavar and Relacore. Akavar works by “making the user feel full” when taken with a glass of water before a meal, and Relacore “helps reduce stress, a major component of weight gain, and therefore helps shrink abdominal fat.” Even thinking about these claims as an informed consumer, we can kind of see where the FTC is coming from: stress reduction doesn’t necessarily automatically shrink abdominal fat. But yeah, okay, maybe less stress leads to eating less, which might mean that your tummy shrinks. And sure, a glass of water before a meal does make you feel more full—though there’s no guarantee that you’ll eat less and lose weight because of that.
This case of Salt Lake City commercial litigation is still pending, and as such, neither party would comment to the Salt Lake Tribune’s story on the matter. But Basic Research is apparently annoyed enough to counter claim that “its free speech and due process constitutional rights were violated” by the FTC’s actions against it.