Marketers of the Pro-Form ab GLIDER™ Agree to Pay $3 Million in Civil Penalties for Violating 1997 FTC Order Prohibiting Deceptive Weight Loss Claims
ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. (ICON) and its related entities have agreed to pay $3 million in civil penalties to settle FTC charges that the companies violated the Commission’s 1997 consent order by advertising that use of their exercise equipment for just three minutes a day would result in significant weight loss.
“The FTC is committed to protecting consumers from bogus weight-loss claims, whether they’re for dietary supplements, exercise equipment, or any other type of product,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Just because time has passed since an order was entered, doesn’t mean a manufacturer can ignore the order and return to its old tricks.”
The 1997 administrative order against ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. (ICON) prohibited the marketers from making unsubstantiated claims for weight-loss exercise equipment and required that an endorser’s claim reflect a typical user’s experience or be accompanied by a clear and prominent disclosure.
According to the FTC’s current complaint, since at least August 2010 and through June 2013, ICON ran several types of advertisements making weight-loss claims for the ab GLIDER™. The ads included video infomercials on television, ICON’s website, and social media networks. The advertisements, featuring television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck and multiple consumer endorsers, claimed that using the ab GLIDER™ alone or using the ab Glider for only three minutes a day would lead to lost pounds, inches, or clothing sizes.
The FTC complaint states that consumers achieved these results by being on a controlled diet, using the ab Glider™ for more than three minutes a day, and engaging in additional exercise. Because ICON cannot substantiate the claimed results were solely from ab Glider™ use or use for only 3 minutes a day, the FTC charged it with violating the 1997 order.
In addition to the $3 million civil penalty, due within 45 days of when the court enters the settlement order, ICON Health & Fitness, Inc. and its related entities: HF Holdings, Inc.; IHF Holdings, Inc.; and IHF Capital, Inc. have agreed to vacate the prior Commission order and enter into a new administrative order that terminates 20 years from the date the Commission issues it.
The Commission vote to refer the complaint and proposed Stipulated Order to the Department of Justice for filing was 5-0.The DOJ filed the complaint and proposed stipulated order on behalf of the Commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The FTC is a member of the National Prevention Council, which provides coordination and leadership at the federal level regarding prevention, wellness, and health promotion practices. This case advances the National Prevention Strategy’s goal of increasing the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.
NOTE: The Commission refers a complaint to the DOJ for filing when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
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