Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Wednesday, December 30, 1998.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699

Attorney General Investigates Weight-loss Claims

"Beware of so-called scientific breakthroughs and dramatic testimonials," Miller advises consumers.

Des Moines-- The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division is investigating sensational weight-loss claims made by two dietary supplement distributors -- and asking the companies to substantiate their claims.

Attorney General Tom Miller also advised consumers to choose weight-loss programs carefully in order to be safe and increase their chances of success. "Be wary of so-called scientific breakthroughs and ads that include testimonials with exaggerated and unsubstantiated weight loss claims," he said.

The Consumer Protection Division issued "civil investigative demands for information" to Danmark, Inc., of Topsham, Maine, and to SVELT-TECH/100 of Plattsburgh, NY. The demands are issued under authority of the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act and require the companies to answer various questions and provide substantiation for advertising claims.

The Danmark demand asks for substantiation of claims for the dietary company's supplement "Chitosan Plus" -- including claims that "clinical studies reveal that the powerful blend of ingredients in Chitosan Plus attracts fat like a magnet, absorbs it, and passes it right through the body," and that "with Chitosan Plus a person can lose weight and get lean without diets or exercise."

The SVELT-TECH/100 demand asks for substantiation of claims regarding the company's "crash-loss" caplet it calls the "Fastest Weight-Loss Method Ever Known to Medical Science." Print ads claim the caplet will "melt down fat like hot water melts down ice," and that the caplet "creates a 'hypo-calorie effect' inside your body. . . that turns your system into a giant fat burning machine."

Miller said ads sometimes appear in national tabloids or publications with the notice: "Not available in Iowa."

"In the past we have obtained court orders stopping some of the most questionable ads, but consumers need to be smart about weight loss, too," Miller said.

He cited a Federal Trade Commission estimate that as many as 50 million Americans go on some form of diet each year, especially at New Year's time, but that less than five per cent manage to keep the weight off. "A high number of people are extremely eager for success, and that can be a formula for problems," Miller said.

"We especially want people to question potentially dangerous fad diets or programs that promise rapid weight loss or loss without the need for permanent changes in diet and exercise habits," he said.

"True and lasting weight loss rarely if ever is found in a capsule or pill," he said. "There are no magic bullets. Consumers who want to lose weight should choose a plan or program carefully that fits their budget and emphasizes a personal commitment to gradual and permanent changes in eating and exercise habits."

Miller noted that responsible weight-loss plans are available from physicians, hospitals, clinics, national health organizations, health maintenance organizations, health clubs, libraries, and book stores. Miller encouraged consumers to consult with their physicians before they undertake significant new diet or exercise programs.

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