BBB National Programs Archive

Medifast Participates In ERSP Self-Regulatory Forum

New York, NY – July 31, 2005 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP), the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum supervised by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC), announced that Medifast, marketers of The Medifast 980 Weight-Loss Plan, has voluntarily discontinued certain establishment claims , agreed to modify its testimonials, and agreed to add a disclaimer to clarify the Medifast program and results.

The marketer’s advertising was reviewed pursuant to ERSP’s ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP requested that Medifast, based in Owings Mills, Md., provide substantiation for both testimonial claims (i.e., “The first week I lost 9lbs…the 2nd week I lost 9lbs…at the end of the month I had lost 30 lbs.”) and establishment claims (i.e., “Medically proven to take the weight off fast and to keep it off”).

Medifast told ERSP that the company would voluntarily discontinue it claims that the Medifast-980
Program is “medically proven to take the weight off fast and to keep it off” and “medically proven for healthy weight loss in the shortest time possible.”

Medifast also said that it would eliminate, in future advertising, references to the amount of time it takes to lose certain amounts of weight.

Medifast supported its establishment claims with a study undertaken by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, entitled “Multicenter Evaluation of Health Benefits and Weigh loss on the Medifast Weight Management Program.”

ERSP concluded that the study, along with clear disclosure language that would indicate the claims are not applicable to all program participants, provided a reasonable basis for weight- loss testimonial claims.

Finally, ERSP determined that Medifast’s support for its “doctor recommended” claim was sufficient to support the claim, but should communicate in future advertising that the doctors’ recommendations pertains to Medifast programs in general and not the Medifast-980 program.

In response to ERSP’s decision, Medifast responded that the company is “gratified that … the … study independently supported the weight loss claims made in our consumer testimonials…[and]also appreciate
…that Medifast’s claim that over 15,000 doctors have recommended Medifast is accurate.”

“We concur with [ERSP’s} recommendations and will implement them. Medifast has been helping people lose weight for over 25 years, and we value our excellent reputation within the medical community and with consumers.”