FTC Reaches Settlement with Weight Watchers
over Weight Loss Claims

FTC News Release
September 30, 1997

The Federal Trade Commission and Weight Watchers International, Inc. have agreed to settle a case filed by the Commission in 1993 concerning the substantiation for advertising claims made by the company in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The proposed settlement covers future claims, including testimonial claims, about weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

The agreement sets out the types of evidence needed to support Weight Watchers' future weight loss and weight loss maintenance claims. It would require that claims about maintenance success include additional disclosures about the actual maintenance experience of Weight Watchers' customers, as well as the statement "For many dieters, weight loss is temporary." In addition, under the agreement, Weight Watchers would state, in connection with any atypical testimonial about weight loss or maintenance success, the generally-expected success for program participants or indicate that dieters should not expect to experience similar results. Finally, the company has agreed to use its best efforts, as detailed therein, to assure that its franchisees comply with the terms of the settlement.

The Commission's 1993 complaint, which did not challenge the underlying efficacy of Weight Watcher's program, questioned the adequacy of the company's substantiation for certain weight loss and maintenance claims made in advertising between 1988 and 1992. Weight Watchers has previously filed an answer to the Commission's complaint denying these charges.

The Commission vote to announce the proposed order for public comment was 2-1 with Chairman Robert Pitofsky recused and Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga dissenting, having found no reason to believe that the law has been violated.

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This page was posted on December 14, 2005.

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