The Federal Trade Commission has sued the marketers of the BodyFlex+ System (“BodyFlex”) for falsely advertising that BodyFlex causes fast inch loss and fat loss. The FTC’s complaint, filed in federal district court, names as defendants Savvier Inc. and Savvier LP, California companies; their principals, Jack Ching Chung Chang, Jeffrey T. Tuller, and Keith Greer; and BodyFlex “creator”and spokesperson Greer Childers.
The BodyFlex+ System includes a Gym Bar and a breathing technique. The BodyFlex 18-minute “workout” involves several minutes of deep breathing and stretching, followed by exercises with the BodyFlex Gym Bar. The defendants have promoted BodyFlex through a heavily aired national infomercial and on the Internet at www.bodyflex.com. The defendants claim that, “in just seven days you can lose from four to 14 inches guaranteed with BodyFlex Plus.” According to the ads, the BodyFlex breathing is the “secret to burning fat,” because it supposedly “will supercharge your blood with fat-burning oxygen and you’ll lose inches fast.” BodyFlex ads emphasize that the “workout” takes only minutes a day and can be performed sitting down. The defendants stress that the “program is not about food.”
“These claims of fast, easy inch loss without diet or exercise exploit the millions of overweight Americans looking for an effective weight-loss and exercise program,” said Howard Beales, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Frankly, we think BodyFlex’s breathtaking claims are full of hot air.”
The FTC complaint alleges that the defendants have falsely claimed that:
- BodyFlex causes users to lose from four to 14 inches across six body areas in the first seven days without reducing calories;
- BodyFlex causes users to burn enough body fat to achieve the claimed inch loss in seven days; and
- a clinical study proves that BodyFlex causes significant fat and inch loss in the first seven days.
The FTC asked the court to issue an immediate temporary restraining order for all defendants, except Greer Childers, to prohibit them from making the challenged false claims, and freezing their assets, and require an immediate accounting. Defendant Greer Childers has stipulated to the entry of a temporary order that prohibits her from making the challenged claims, freezes certain of her assets, and requires an accounting. The FTC also is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, including redress for BodyFlex purchasers.
According to the FTC, the BodyFlex infomercial has been among the 10 most frequently aired infomercials in weekly U.S. rankings, and has aired over 2,000 times from February through September 2003 on national cable channels such as Bravo, The History Channel, and Home & Garden Television. The defendants have spent approximately $22 million to promote BodyFlex through the infomercial, according to the FTC.
The defendants have sold BodyFlex for $39.90, plus $14.95 shipping and handling (totaling $54.85) directly to consumers through their toll-free number or Web site. The product also has been offered for sale on third-party Web sites, such as www.tvproductsonly.com.
The Commission vote to authorize staff to file the complaint was 5-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, in Los Angeles, on November 7, 2003.
The FTC is issuing two updated consumer publications about exercise equipment, “Avoiding the Muscle Hustle” and “Pump Fiction: When Marketers Overextend Their Fitness Claims.” These publications, found at www.ftc.gov/health, offer tips to consider and questions to ask before buying exercise equipment.
To lose weight and get in shape:
1. Commit to sensible eating and moderate exercise.
2. Remember: the benefits of exercise require exercise – not gizmos or gimmicks.
3. Be patient. Losing weight and inches takes time.
The FTC hotline number for BodyFlex is 202-326-2935.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint 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. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Copies of the complaint are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Office of Public Affairs
Joni Lupovitz or Robin Rosen Spector
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3743 or 202-326-3740
(FTC File No. 032-3212)
(Civil Action No. LACV 03-8159 FMC (JTLX)