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Bad Mouthing This Weight-Loss Product Could Get You Sued

Tim Boyer's picture
Safety concerns with this weight loss product

Consumers are warned that bad mouthing a certain weight-loss product could get them sued. But there's more to potentially worry about than a frivolous lawsuit when taking this weight loss product.


Recently, Consumer Affairs reported that if you are buying a weight loss product online, you need to be sure to read the fine print. At least one weight loss supplement maker― Roca Labs in Florida―which sells Roca Labs “Formula” and “Anti-Cravings” powder for weight loss, are making use of what is referred to as “anti-disparagement clauses” also known as “gag clauses” in their fine print that threaten to sue a consumer if they make public any complaint against their weight loss products.

Furthermore, there is some concern about whether the company is guilty of making false claims about its products effectiveness and safety. According to Consumer Affairs, the company claims that its users can lose as much as 21 pounds per month using their products and that their customers have a 90 percent success rate in losing a significant amount of weight. The makers describe their products as an alternative to gastric bypass surgery.

Consumer complaints and at least one lawsuit against a consumer dissatisfied with their weight loss products drew the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resulting in a recently issued federal injunction against the company this September.

“Roca Labs had an adversarial relationship with the truth,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Not only did they make false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims, they also attempted to intimidate their own customers from sharing truthful―and truly negative―reviews of their products.”

Part of the false claims charged has been the practice not disclosing the use of compensated users who posted favorable reviews of their weight loss products. Take a look on the internet and you will find numerous positive reviews that appear questionable at best.

So why does a company resort to such blatant practices? The money of course. According to Consumer Affairs, starting at $480 for a three-to-four month supply, Roca Labs has sold at least $20 million of the powder since 2010.

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Regarding the safety of their weight loss products, reportedly they consist in large part of glucomannan, a dietary fiber that is often used as a weight loss aid due to that it can make the stomach feel fuller.

Glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber derived from the root of a plant named “Amorphophallus konjac,” which grows in warm subtropical regions of Asia. It is also known by other names such as konjak, konjaku, and konnyaku potato and has been discussed on the Dr. Oz Show for weight loss.

Due to the swelling properties of glucomannan it is often used as a food additive as a thickener. However, because of its ability to absorb water and swell many times the normal size of its dried state, glucomannan is more popularly used as a potential weight loss supplement that acts as an appetite suppressant. It suppresses appetite by essentially expanding and filling the space within the stomach to give a feeling of fullness. However, only a few small studies suggest that taking glucomannan may result in significant weight loss for some dieters.

In fact, ingesting too much glucomannan or taking a tablet type over a capsule type has the potential of becoming stuck within the digestive tract. Then, when water is ingested to try to wash the tablet down, it could swell so much that it causes either a blockage or a rupture requiring immediate life-saving surgery.

A sensible alternative way of taking glucomannan is that it should be dissolved in water first and then consumed. Dr. Oz does tell viewers to be sure to dissolve their glucomannan in a shake or other drink before consuming.

So, the take-home message here is to be sure to read the fine print that tells you not only what is in that supplement you are taking, but whether the maker of the product is trying to pull a gag clause to keep you from getting your money back.

For more about supplements to watch out for, here is an informative article about one weight loss product the FTC says is a fraud.

Reference: Consumer AffairsRoca Labs threatened, sued customers who complained about its weight-loss potions, feds charge