Florida-Based Company Agrees to Pay $100,000 to Settle FTC Charges
of Deceptively Advertising Weight-Loss and Cholesterol-Lowering Products
FTC News Release
May 4, 1995
National Dietary Research, Inc. (NDR) and its owner have agreed to pay $100,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and unsubstantiated claims for two products: Food Source One (FS-1), a purported weight-loss and cholesterol-reducing product; and Vancol 5000 (Vancol), a purported cholesterol-reducing product. The proposed settlement also would prohibit the respondents from, among other things, making similar false or unsubstantiated claims for any product or program they offer in the future.
In November 1993, the FTC issued an administrative complaint naming NDR and The William H. Morris Company, both based in Tampa, Florida; and William H. Morris, the president and owner of both companies. In that complaint, the FTC detailed the allegedly deceptive claims for FS-1, a compressed tablet made largely from plant fiber, and Vancol, a compressed tablet made from plant fiber and other substances. Specifically, the FTC charged that the respondents failed to have adequate evidence to support their claims that FS-1:
- causes significant weight loss, and does so without dieting or otherwise changing normal eating patterns;
- is an effective treatment for obesity;
- reduces hunger and is an effective appetite suppressant;
- decreases the intestinal absorption of calories; and
- may significantly reduce serum (blood) cholesterol.
In addition, the FTC charged that the respondents falsely claimed that scientific studies demonstrated that FS-1 is an effective weight-loss product, that FS-1 has a high fiber content, that NDR is an independent research organization that has conducted research on ending worldwide health problems, and that certain of their newspaper advertisements were newspaper stories.
With respect to Vancol, the FTC alleged that the respondents made unsubstantiated claims that Vancol would significantly reduce serum cholesterol, and that it would do so without changes in diet or eating habits. The FTC also alleged that the respon- dents falsely claimed that the effectiveness of Vancol was demonstrated by scientific studies. Finally, according to the FTC, the respondents represented, without a reasonable basis, that consumer testimonials appearing in both the FS-1 and the Vancol ads reflected the typical experience of consumers who have used the product.
The proposed consent agreement to settle these charges, announced today for public comment, would prohibit the respondents from making claims about weight loss, hunger reduction, calorie absorption, cholesterol reduction, effects on cellulite or body measurements, or any other health benefits of any product or program they advertise or sell, unless the respondents can substantiate the claims with competent and reliable scientific evidence. The order also would prohibit the respondents from making any false claims about:
- test results;
- the amount of fiber or other dietary constituent in any product or program;
- a product being a high or rich source of fiber or other dietary constituent; or
- the activities of NDR or any other affiliated organization.
In addition, the consent agreement would prohibit the respondents from representing that any advertisement is something other than a paid ad, and from claiming that an endorsement is typical of the experience of consumers who use the product, unless that claim is substantiated. The proposed settlement would allow the respondents to use a truthful, non-typical testimonial, if they clearly and prominently disclose, in close proximity to the testimonial, what the generally expected performance would be in the depicted circumstances, or that consumers should not expect to experience similar results.
The consent agreement would further allow the respondents to use certain claims that are approved for labels by the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition, the consent agreement would require NDR to pay $100,000 to the Commission. If practical, the money will be used for consumer refunds. Otherwise, it will go to the US Treasury.
Finally, the proposed order includes various reporting requirements that would assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance with its provisions.
The Commission vote to approve the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0.
- In the Matter of National Dietary Research, The William H. Morris Company, and William H. Morris. 120 FTC 893, FTC Docket No. D-9263.
This page was posted on December 23, 2005.