What started as a little research to debunk a weight-loss ad ended with me adding 60 minutes to my cell phone bill and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Follow along as I take you on my unexpected journey.
There’s a TV ad for Lipo-Zap (I changed the name; who knows the legal implications of using the real one), and it drives me nuts. It claims weight-loss benefits that are no better than dieting, which is free. Every time it comes on, I roll my eyes. I know they wouldn’t continue hawking it if people weren’t buying it.
I thought it’d make a good column. Off, then, to the Internet. The Lipo-Zap homepage espoused the same claims as its TV ad. I sought facts to dispel. I wanted the clinical trials they kept quoting. It’s a sporting event to me.
I clicked on everything — “get the facts,” “ingredients” — and there were no studies to be found. So, I called them. What’s the worst that could happen? They’d hang up on me?
Twenty minutes and two phone calls later, all I had was a crick in my neck, an earful of repetitive sales recordings, a few rounds on hold while supervisors were consulted, and a virtual shoulder shrug as to the whereabouts of the “clinical studies.”
Not to be deterred, I googled the “Fatty Research Institute,” my code name for the group said to have conducted the studies (again, have to look out for those legal ramifications). I found a simple, single-page website created in WordPress. Seriously? They couldn’t go to any more trouble than that?
I backtracked to my search results and found a 2005 FTC news release naming the “Fatty Research Institute” as defendants in a lawsuit involving an old weight-loss product. And what else did I see? The same ingredients noted in the 2005 incident were in the current Lipo-Zap. What the what?
I was perturbed. I called the FTC in Washington, D.C. How could the “Fatty Research Institute” get away with this? I know — a tad naïve, but I felt so Woodward and Bernstein.
The FTC folks were nice. By the end of my call, my inquiry turned into a filed complaint.
There you have it — my tiny, quixotic contribution to health and fitness. What started as curiosity turned into action. Increase your suspicion, fellow weight-loss citizens! Quit shelling out money to these bozos. Make them find something better to do.
• Shannon Sorrels is an NSCA-certified personal trainer and owner of Physix LLC in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or www.azphysix.com