BBB National Programs Archive

Lean For Life Participates In ERSP Forum

New York, NY – April 10, 2006 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) determined that Lean For Life, LLC (“Lean For Life ”), marketers of Lean Bean Coffee (“Lean Bean”),  have supported comparative claims and some safety claims. ERSP recommended, however, that the marketer modify specific weight- loss claims and claims that suggested the efficacy of individual ingredients equaled the efficacy of the product. The marketer’s advertising came to ERSP’s attention through an anonymous challenge.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum supervised by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC), reviewed core claims that include:

  • “Trap, bind, and eliminates fat….usually in those unwanted areas.”;
  • “How can you eat bacon and eggs and absorb less fa t than a buttered bagel? Or savor a 6 oz sirloin steak and only absorb the fat in a turkey sandwich? Or enjoy chocolate ice cream and only get the fat in a fruit salad?”;
  • “Every 6 ounces of Lean Bean Coffee has the power to bind and eliminate over 5.5 grams of fat and it reduces your cravings too!”
  • “I lost 10 lbs in 3 weeks-I haven’t done anything different with my diet.” “Clinical tests have proven that each six ounce cup of Lean Bean has the potential to block over 5.5 grams of fat.”;
  • “It’s the first and only coffee that blocks fat and reduces cravings and even helps you control cholesterol.”
  • “Right for everyone no matter their weight loss goals even if they are doing nothing…simply by drinking 3-6 cups of the Lean Bean a day…managing weight, reducing their cravings, and reducing their cholesterol.”

At the outset, the marketer represented that the advertising at issue was being revised. However, because the marketer  reserved the right to disseminate some of the claims at issue in future advertising, ERSP proceeded with its review pursuant to Section 2.2 (C) of the ERSP Policy and Procedures.

Following its review of the evidence, ERSP determined the marketer provided a reasonable basis for most safety and comparative claims, but recommended the marketer modify or discontinue advertising that suggests using Lean Bean would allow one’s physician to “lower or even eliminate the patient’s cholesterol lowering or blood sugar medication.”

ERSP agreed that the marketer submitted sufficient evidence to support its core claim that the primary ingredient in Lean Bean (i.e., Nopal) is a legitimate fat blocker, but determined that the evidence in the record did not support more specific, quantified weight- loss and cholesterol claims, or claims promising weight loss in targeted areas

ERSP further concluded that while the marketer should be permitted to discuss the numerous tests that have been conducted on Nopal, but should not extrapolate the data from these studies as being applicable to a human population or to the Lean Bean product itself..

Finally, ERSP noted that the marketer has made a concerted effort to disclose that “Individual results may vary” and caution that “Healthy diet and exercise are a necessary part of any weight loss program” throughout the advertising. ERSP recommended that the marketer eliminate from testimonials references to the time frame in which weight- loss results were achieved any potential ambiguity regarding consumer expectation of weight loss.

Lean for Life, in its response to ERSP’s findings, said it  “…will give your recommendations very serious consideration and endeavor to address your concerns so that our future customers have additional information upon which to base their decision about purchasing Lean Bean Coffee…”