BBB National Programs Archive

Iovate Health Sciences International Participates In ERSP Self-Regulatory Forum

New York, NY  – January  25, 2005  –  The  Electronic  Retailing  Self-Regulation  Program  (ERSP) announced that Iovate Health Sciences International (Iovate), marketers of the Hydroxycut Nutritional Supplement, have provided a reasonable basis for all general and specific performance claims, but was asked to modify certain disclaimer language and testimonials. The marketer’s advertising was reviewed pursuant to ERSP’s monitoring program.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum, is administered by the Council of Better  Business  Bureaus  (CBBB)  with policy  oversight  by the National  Advertising Review Council (NARC). ERSP reviewed core claims that include:

  • “Unlike most other weight loss products on the market, Hydroxycut  contains effective weight loss ingredients at  clinically studied doses based on research at a majorAmericanUniversity.”
  • “Lose weight fast”; “Burn calories”; “Increase your energy”; “Control your appetite”
  • “With the science of Hydroxycut, you can lose up to 4.5 times the weight than with diet and exercise alone.”

In addition, the advertising features several “Before, Midpoint and After” weight loss depictions  of consumers  who have  purportedly  used the product, with a disclosures on the bottom of the screen/page.

ERSP found that Iovate’s claims of general product performance were supported by the Preuss weight loss studies which were conducted on the primary ingredients in Hydroxycut. ERSP also determined that Iovate  substantiated  it  more  specific  product  performance  claims  including  claims  that  

  • “Hydroxycut contains effective weight loss ingredients  at   clinically  studied  doses based on research at a major American  University.”;  
  • “Lose  weight  fast”;  
  • “Burn  calories”;  
  • “Increase  your  energy  control  your appetite”
  • and that “With the science of Hydroxycut, you can lose up to 4.5 times the weight than with diet and exercise alone.”

ERSP determined that statements from Dr. Jon Marshall and Dr. Christine Lydon were expert endorsements.  ERSP concluded that Dr. Lydon’s statement communicated  an unqualified parity claim that was not supported by Iovate’s evidence. Dr. Marshall’s testimonial was literally accurate; however, the fact that two muscle -building products supplements were used in addition to Hydroxycut to achieve the results communicated is material information with respect to consumers interpretation of the claims that needed to be more prominently disclosed in the advertising.

In  response  to  ERSP’s  findings,  Iovate  stated  it  “is  pleased  that  ERSP  found  the  general  product performance claims to be substantiated … Iovate carefully follows Federal Trade Commission guidance in the advertising of its products, as is reflected in the ERSP Decision.”   Iovate was also pleased that ERSP found the specific performance claims to be substantiated as well.

However, Iovate noted that it disagrees with ERSP’s decision regarding the testimonials and disclaimer language included in the advertising. “Nevertheless, Iovate is a proponent of industry self-regulation and will incorporate ERSP’s comments into future advertising.”