BBB National Programs Archive

Obesity Research Institute Participates In Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program

New York, NY – January 31, 2005 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (“ERSP”), the ele ctronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum supervised by the National Advertising Review Council (“NARC”), announced that direct response marketer The Obesity Research Institute has provided a reasonable basis for statements regarding the general weight-loss propensity of its Propolene weight- loss supplement in a short form direct response advertisement, and agreed to modify other performance and establishment claims included in its advertisement. The truth and accuracy of the marketer’s claims came to the attention of ERSP through an anonymous consumer challenge.

In the inquiry, ERSP requested that the marketer provide substantiation for several core performance claims and consumer testimonials that were communicated in the direct response marketing for Propolene. The representative claims at issue included: “Scientifically proven to reduce weight without special diet or exercise”; “Propolene is designed for people who need to lose at least 20 pounds or more.”; “without diet or exercise.”; as “Eat the same way”; and “without having to change anything in their lives”

Based upon its review of The Obesity Research Center’s evidence, ERSP determined that general weight-loss propensity of the product’s active ingredient (i.e., a derivative of glucomanen) had been adequately demonstrated. However, it was also concluded that the evidence could not support an implied claim that consumers us ing Propolene could lose weight (particularly, “at least 20 pounds or more” as the stated in the advertisement ) “without diet or exercise.”

In its acceptance of ERSP’s recommendations, The Obesity Research Institute stated that it although it disagreed with ERSP’s interpretation of the advertising and evidence, it “has made certain voluntary changes in its Propolene labeling and advertising, including eliminating a statement that ‘Propolene is designed for people who need to lose at least 20 pounds or more.’… and will carefully consider ERSP’s analysis to assure that advertising claims for Propolene are clear and consistent with ERSP’s determinations and the law.”