FTC Challenges Weight-loss Claims for Slim Down Solution

Infomercials Ran Nationally

FTC News Release
January 24, 2003

The Federal Trade Commission today charged Slim Down Solution, LLC, Maderia Management, Inc., and several related companies and individuals with using false and unsubstantiated claims in the marketing and advertising of "Slim Down Solution" — a purported weight-loss product. The advertising claimed that the product's key ingredient, D-glucosamine, absorbs up to 20 grams of dietary fat and causes significant weight loss without diet or exercise. According to the FTC complaint, these claims are false.

The FTC's complaint names Slim Down Solution, LLC, Slim Down Solution, Inc., SST Management, Inc., The KARA Group, LLC, and their principals, Ronald Alarcon and Kathleen Alarcon (collectively, SDS defendants); and Maderia Management, Inc., Polyglucosamine, Ltd., and their principal, Steven Pierce (collectively, Maderia defendants). The SDS defendants, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, have advertised and sold Slim Down Solution through nationally-disseminated infomercials that aired on cable television channels such as Bravo, Comedy Central, and PAX Cable, and on the Internet at www.slimdownsolution.com. In addition, the SDS defendants sell their product through a continuity program, automatically shipping consumers Slim Down Solution and charging consumers' credit cards or debiting their bank accounts monthly. The Maderia defendants, based in Conroe, Texas, have manufactured and sold D-glucosamine products directly to consumers and other resellers through their Internet sites, including www.polyglucosamine.com. Resellers, in turn, promoted the products to consumers under private labels such as "Fight the Fat," "Everslim," "Mini Max," and "Slim Down Solution."

The FTC is seeking permanent injunctive relief and consumer redress against all of the defendants. Concurrently with the filing of its complaint in this matter, the FTC filed a stipulated preliminary injunction against the SDS defendants that, when signed by the judge, will preliminarily enjoin use of the challenged claims in advertising.

Weight-Loss Fraud

"It's no secret that claims promoting significant weight loss without diet or exercise are false," said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The scientific community knows it, the law enforcement community knows it, and the media know it. Law enforcement has been significant and aggressive on the issue. But it's clear we need the media's help to keep these bogus claims from reaching consumers. Although hope for quick and easy weight loss springs eternal, the only real solutions require eating less and exercising more."

In November 2002, the Commission conducted a workshop on weight-loss advertising that focused on identifying false weight-loss claims and exploring what the media could and should do to stop weight-loss fraud. "The workshop was successful," said Beales. "We intend to follow up with additional media guidance. Protecting the public from fraudulent weight-loss advertising will require the cooperation of the media that run these ads. When it comes to false weight-loss product claims, we are asking the media to work with us to protect their viewers from this kind of fraud."

The SDS Defendants

In their advertisements, the SDS defendants used such statements as:

The complaint alleges that the SDS defendants violated the FTC Act by falsely representing that Slim Down Solution:

The FTC further alleges that the SDS defendants did not possess a reasonable basis to substantiate these claims, or the claim that Slim Down Solution causes weight loss, at the time the claims were made. The FTC further alleges that the defendants falsely stated that independent laboratory testing using US government standards proves that Slim Down Solution binds dietary fat in the human digestive system, when such was not the case. In addition, the complaint alleges that the SDS defendants improperly charged consumers' credit cards or debited their bank accounts through the continuity program.

The Maderia Defendants

The complaint alleges that the Maderia defendants provided the means and instrumentalities for the SDS defendants to make their deceptive claims. It also alleges that the Maderia defendants falsely represented that their D-glucosamine products isolate up to 16-20 grams of dietary fat per dose, then bind it to be carried out of the body as waste; falsely represented that independent studies prove that its D-glucosamine products absorb dietary fat, thereby causing weight loss in humans; and represented without adequate substantiation that their D-glucosamine products cause weight loss.

The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint and stipulated preliminary injunction were filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, West Palm Beach Division, on January 22, 2003.

Consumer Tips

The FTC has the following tips for consumers who are interested in weight-loss products or programs:

For more information on weight loss and diets, visit the FTC's Web site at www.ftc.gov/dietfit.

Related Documents:

This page was posted on November 21, 2005.

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