Diet/Weight Loss Advertising 
this page updated last on:  07/28/2014
  Thanks to Middleweb and School Library Journal for recommending this resource

"Testimonials from individuals are not a substitute for science, and that's what Americans need to understand."
FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras, quoted in Jan. '07 AP story
  about FTC fines against weight loss product producers for false/misleading advertising

  "If you see an ad for a weight-loss product making fantastic claims, keep your money in your pocket," said Lydia Parnes,
                                                Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. Source

Yes, it's that time of year again--just after the holidays.  Magazines in particular feature cover stories
  on losing weight.  And weight loss advertising seems to be everywhere, especially in these new year's publications.


jenna-dewan-tatun-us-weekly-watermark__oPt.jpg (450×651)


  Presented here are some resources, ads, and activities that will encourage young people to use "critical thinking skills" as it relates
  to these persuasive forms of advertising.  Since teaching ad technique and awareness is in most state's health teaching
these ads are perfect for use in classroom settings. If you have comments, please send them to me:

In early December 2003, the Federal Trade Commission issued new guidelines to the media about accepting advertisements for weight loss products which may be deceptive in their claims.
  Read how the media covered the story.

  FTC Advice issued December 2008:
Have some healthy skepticism. Consumers can learn how to spot health scams, such as fake cancer cures and bogus weight loss products, and do some
  research on buying generic drugs, Lasik eye surgery, and using dietary supplements. Consumers can learn about rights they may not even know they had – like the right to obtain a copy of prescriptions
  for eyeglasses or comtact lenses at ( See also the FTC website: Red Flag: Bogus Weight Loss Claims)

  Presented below are several ads for educators/parents to consider using.  Use of these ads in this context does not imply any deception. Rather I invite educators/parents/students to use
  media literacy concepts and critical thinking questions and apply them to these ads.

  Download these ads for analysis & deconstruction

            2013 Ad Posted on AOL                                        2013 Ad Posted on AOL                       Back Cover Ad from Dash Magazine          
2012 Ad from Yahoo WebSite

(US Weekly, Jan. 14 2013)
(US Weekly, Jan. 14 2013)
(US Weekly, Jan. 14 2013)
Weight Watchers Ad
(US Weekly, Jan. 10 2011)

Atkins Ad
(US Weekly, Jan. 10 2011)

(US Weekly, Jan. 10 2011)

Medifast Ad
(Better Homes Magazine, January 2009)

Jenny Craig Ad
(US Weekly Magazine, January 12, 2009)

Weight Watchers Ad
(Parade, January 4, 2009)

Alli Ad
(Good Housekeeping, January 2009)
NutriSystems Ad
(Parade, January 4, 2009)

Atkins Ad
(US Weekly Magazine, January 12, 2009)

(US Weekly Magazine, January 12, 2009)
Weight Watchers Ad
(Better Homes & Gardens, Sept. 2008)

Gabriel Method Web Ad
Accessed May 4, 2009)


Ad from AOL Homepage (January 2010)  Ad found on a blog below (February 2010) Ad from AOL Homepage (January 2009)
Click here to find out more!


 FTC Fake WebSite for Student evaluation:  FatFoe

 Recent news articles/research:

 FTC Fines Marketers for Deceptive Claims (July 2014)
Dieters beware: Those before-and-after weight-loss photos aren't always legit (February 2014)

 FTC cracking down on deceptive weight-loss ads (January 2014)

 VIDEO: The Truth Behind Diet Advertising

 Vintage Weight Loss Ads
 Diet companies now targeting men
Fake weight-loss ads on Web lead to FTC settlement  (March 2012)

 8 Celebrities Who Have Shilled For Diet Pills
 Viral Video Reveals Dramatic Before & After Infomercial Diet Tricks (Feb. 2012) 
 Why Weight-Loss & Diet Commercials Are Dangerous (Jan. 2012)
 New Year Brings New Diet-Company Ads, Programs
 Jenny Craig Ends Ad Campaign After Lawsuit
 Weight Watchers sues Jenny Craig for Bertinelli ad
 Marketers of Unproven Weight-Loss Products Ordered to Pay Nearly $2 Million (Jan. 2010)
 FTC wants more scrutiny of weight-loss ads
(July 2009)
 New Year, New Round of Diet Programs

 Internet Marketers of Dietary Supplement for Weight Loss Agree to Pay $150,000  (Dec. 2008)
 Before & After Ads Lead to Bias
(Nov. 2008)
 TrimSpa's Ads Change After Anna Nicole
 Claims in diet-pill ads are too good to be true, FTC
 Sellers of Popular Weight Loss Supplements Pay $25 Million Over FTC Allegations of Deceptive Advertising
 Diet ads under scrutiny

 FTC To Require Four Weight Loss Pill Companies To Change Ads And Pay Penalties
 What You Need to Know About Weight-Loss Programs (Jan.2007)
 Americans fall prey to weight-loss supplement hype (Oct.2006)
 How adolescent girls interpret weight loss advertising (July 2006)
 FTC to start naming bogus ad broadcasters
 Diet & Hype (Newsweek March 2006)
 "Before and After" diet ads not fair on obese people: Study
 FTC Stops Bogus Ads for 'Bio Trim' and Other Weight-loss Products (Nov.2005)

 This diet pill contains saturated advertising (July 2005)
 Diet pill use on the rise among teenage girls (May 2005)
 FTC Sees Drop in Ads with False Weight-Loss Claims( April 2005)
 Weight Loss Ad Claims Disputed, Study (Dec.2004)
 Diet ads promote stereotypes 
 Miracle-Diet Ads Lie? Well, Duh! (TIME)
 Weighing the evidence in diet ads

Download  Soloflex Ad (August 2006)

Online ad for TIMSPA featuring before and after shots of actress/model Anna Nicole Smith.

(I don't know who they're trying to fool, but the picture on the left was obviously taken years earlier)

small print above reads:
*The "546% weight loss" claim is based soley on Zantrex-3's active weight-loss
component. However, Zantrex-3's non-ephedrine, xanthine-based Super Stimulant TM
has been shown to produce additional weight loss in some studies.
+For full study details visit