Managing Weight Management Claims

As stories proliferate throughout the media regarding America's "obesity epidemic," the goal of losing weight has become an American obsession. One can't flip through television channels without seeing an infomercial touting the next "hardcore" exercise program or a new pill to "trim the fat." Because of this attention on weight, claims addressing weight loss and weight management are some of the most heavily scrutinized by federal regulators.

Federal Regulation

Both FDA and FTC regulate weight management claims made for food, beverage and dietary supplement products. FDA has the primary responsibility of regulating claims made on product labeling, which includes product labels and other written or graphic material accompanying products, such as inserts, brochures, other promotional materials and even websites. FTC, on the other hand, regulates all advertising, including claims in print, television and radio ads, catalogs and direct marketing materials. While FDA, pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between FDA and FTC, has primary responsibility for regulating materials that constitute labeling and advertising, claims that fall under both labeling and advertising, such as claims made on company websites that offer products for sale, may be reviewed by both agencies.

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