2012 Slim Chance Awards

Each year, Frances M. Berg, M.S., who operates the Healthy Weight Network presents "Slim Chance Awards" to promoters of weight-loss schemes. Here are the awards for 2012.

Worst Claim: Dr Oz

In the category of Worst Claim, the Slim Chance Award goes to Dr. Mehmet Oz, who touted raspberry ketone on "The Dr. Oz Show" as "the number one miracle in a bottle to burn your fat." Dr. Oz claimed the product regulates the hormone adiponectin so fat in cells is "broken up" more effectively to enable "fat burning." He declared that the product will help the teach the body that it's thin. But the only relevant research cited by The Dr. Oz Show was conducted on lab rats and mammalian cell cultures rather than clinical research does with people. By the end of the show's program segment on raspberry ketone, Dr. Oz shifted into disclaimer mode, arguing for the need for good diet and exercise. He then contradicted his opening miracle-mongering by suggesting raspberry ketone will only "get you over the hump" and "is not a miracle pill." His disclaimers have not stopped numerous Internet marketers from using his name and image to promote sales of raspberry ketone products for weight loss.

Worst Product: QuickTrim

QuickTrim formulas include various chemical cocktails offered in caplets, drinks, drink mixes, and even skin gel—deceptively claimed to "detoxify and clean" the body and "burn" calories. Potentially hazardous ingredients in featured QuickTrim products include stimulant laxatives and unspecified amounts of caffeine. A $5 million class action lawsuit against Windmill Health Products; QuickTrim; Amazon.com; Walmart, and others has alleged 28 different misrepresentations made for QuickTrim products. Co-defendants include Kim Kardashian, along with her sisters Khloe and Kourtney, who have offered testimonials and appeared in promotional materials for QuickTrim.

Worst Gimmick: Ab Circle Pro

Ab Circle Pro earned the award for Worst Gimmick with ads falsely claiming that three minutes working out with the device—a fiberglass disk with stationary handlebars and two knee rests that roll on the edge of the disk, allowing consumers to kneel and rotate side-to-side—is equivalent to 100 sit-ups and can "melt inches and pounds" causing the exerciser to lose ten pounds in two weeks. In August, marketers of Ab Circle Pro, agreed to settlements with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for consumer refunds of between $15 million and $25 million. Defendants are to refrain from making false or unsupported claims in the future. They include Fitness Brands, Fitness Brands International, and the two individuals who control them, Michael Casey and David Brodess; Direct Holdings Americas, and Direct Entertainment Media Group; infomercial producer Tara Borakos, Tara Productions and New U; and Jennifer Nicole Lee and her two companies, JNL, and JNL Worldwide.

Most Outrageous: Fake News Acai Berry Scammers

Acai berry and "colon cleanser" advertising scammers falsely claimed that products such as Acai Pure, Acai Max, Pure Berry Max, Slimberry, Acai Ultraberry Slim, and Acai Advanced Cleanse would cause rapid and substantial weight loss. Various advertisers ran afoul of FTC, leading to multi-million dollar settlements that barred the advertisers from various deceptive practices. Outrageous advertising included:

Acai berry product marketers who settled FTC charges in 2012 include: Coleadium affiliate network and its owner, Jason Akatiff; Clickbooth affiliate network (owned by John Daniel Lamp); Intermark Communications doing business as Copeac; Coulomb Media and Cody Low (also known as Joe Brooks); Circa Direct and Andrew Davidson; Ricardo Jose Lampra; Zachary S. Graham, Ambervine Marketing and Encastle; Tanner Garrett Vaughn; Thou Lee; Charles Dunlevy; DLXM and Michael Volozin.

This article was posted on December 29, 2012.

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