The Federal Trade Commission has charged Slim Down Solution, Maderia Management, and several related companies and individuals with using false claims in the marketing of its so-called weight-loss product, 'Slim Down Solution.'
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 - false claims, according to the FTC.
The FTC is seeking permanent injunctive relief and consumer redress against all of the defendants. It has also filed a preliminary injunction that, when signed by the judge, will stop the use of the challenged claims in advertising.
The FTC named Slim Down Solution, its management and The KARA Group and their principals, Ronald Alarcon and Kathleen Alarcon (collectively, SDS defendants); and Maderia Management, Polyglucosamine Inc, and their principal, Steven Pierce (collectively, Maderia defendants).
The SDS defendants, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, 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. They also 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.'
"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."
In their advertisements, the SDS defendants used such statements as: "The Slim Down Solution is an incredible tiny tablet that contains D-Glucosamine, a powerful, all-natural, fat magnet and trapper . . . One tablet can help eliminate as much as 20 grams of Fat!", and "The Slim Down Solution doesn't require you to change anything. That's the beauty of it. It's effortless."The complaint alleges that the SDS defendants violated the FTC Act by falsely representing that Slim Down Solution causes substantial weight loss without calorie reduction or exercise, enabling consumers to lose at least 10 pounds and two inches in 30 days; and causes weight loss even if consumers eat substantial amounts of food high in fat, including hamburgers, chocolate, cheesecake, chicken nuggets, and french fries.
The FTC added 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. The SDS defendants also improperly charged consumers' credit cards or debited their bank accounts through the continuity program, said the FTC.
The complaint alleges that the Maderia defendants provided the means and instrumentalities for the SDS defendants to make their deceptive claims.
In November 2002, the FTC 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.