BBB National Programs Archive

ERSP Resolves Inquiry Of Infomercial Targeted At The Hispanic Community

New York, NY – March 24, 2005 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (“ERSP”) has issued its first Spanish language infomercial decision which originated from a consumer complaint regarding the truth and accuracy of Centro Natural de Salud’s weight loss system, The System Tratamiento Contra La Obesidad (“The System”). The consumer challenge comes on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s high profile initiative of prosecuting false and deceptive Spanish- language advertising directed at Hispanic consumers.

In the inquiry, ERSP requested that the marketer provide substantiation for several core performance and safety claims that were communicated in the 30-minute Spanish language advertisement. The core claims identified in The System Tratamiento Contra La Obesidad infomercial were: a) permanent weight loss claims (i.e., “Everything you lose, you will never gain back, guaranteed.”); b) general weight loss claims (i.e., “Lose up to 35 pounds in 2 months without diet, without counting calories, without doing exercise.”); c) specific product claims (i.e., “reducing soap…helps to lose weight.”) and d) consumer testimonials (i.e., “I didn’t diet and you don’t need to eat a limited amount of food, you lead a normal life and the best part is that you are losing weight everyday and you don’t gain it back.”).

After reviewing the evidence provided by the marketer, ERSP recommended that the core claims be discontinued until sufficient testing can be conducted to support such representations. In addition, ERSP also determined that any future claims of  permanent weight loss resulting from product use be accompanied by a statement indicating that a commitment to a more permanent lifestyle change (i.e., diet and exercise) should be made by consumers in order for a permanent weight- loss to occur.

Centro Natural de Salud responded to ERSP’s decision, stating “[Centro Natural de Salud] agree[s] with all the recommendations set forth in the Conclusion … and accept ERSP’s decision in its entirety and will modify the advertising as suggested.”