January 26, 2015 / 9:45 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. bans deceptive ads by green coffee weight-loss marketer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A seller of green coffee bean supplements has agreed to stop deceptive advertising saying that the treatments help users lose weight, a claim that was made on “The Dr. Oz Show,” the Federal Trade Commission said on Monday.

The FTC charged that Lindsey Duncan, whose companies are Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today Inc, had claimed that an extract made of unroasted coffee beans would help people lose 17 pounds (7.7 kg) in 12 weeks without eating less or exercising more.

“Lindsey Duncan and his companies made millions by falsely claiming that green coffee bean supplements cause significant and rapid weight loss,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Under the FTC settlement, Duncan and his companies must pay $9 million to refund people who bought the supplements and refrain from making any weight-loss claims unless they can substantiate them with two studies.

A spokeswoman from Genesis Today said that Duncan left the company in 2014 and that the deceptive ads had stopped before the settlement was reached.

“We decided to settle with the FTC. ... It’s a no-fault settlement. We don’t admit any wrongdoing,” said the spokeswoman, who declined to be named.

In its complaint, the FTC said “The Dr. Oz Show” - hosted by celebrity surgeon and radio show host Dr. Mehmet Oz - approached Duncan, who advertises himself as a “celebrity nutritionist,” to talk about green coffee bean extract as a weight loss aid in 2012.

The complaint said that Duncan, despite never having studied the subject, accepted the appearance request and quickly arranged for his company Pure Health to sell the supplement.

“Duncan did not disclose to ‘The Dr. Oz Show’ producer his relationship to Pure Health,” the complaint said.

On its website, “The Dr. Oz Show” said that the authors of a study on green coffee bean extract “formally retracted their study.”

But elsewhere the site touts “exciting new research (that) demonstrates that you can melt fat all over your body with green coffee bean extract.” It recommends taking 800 mg twice a day.

“The Dr. Oz Show” said in a emailed statement that it applauded the FTC for a “lengthy and thorough investigation of Lindsey Duncan and his efforts to defraud the public using our show.”

“The Dr. Oz Show will retain its eternal vigilance in vetting guests so they meet highest standards,” said the statement.

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Eric Walsh and Leslie Adler

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