You might have seen the advertisements proclaiming that Sensa sprinkles can magically help you win at weight loss effortlessly. Well, the Federal Trade Commission saw them too. And now they're cracking down on the company for deceptive ads by requiring them to return more than $26 million to consumers, reported the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 7.
In their advertisements, Sensa Products LLC told consumers to "sprinkle, eat and lose weight." Sounds good, right? Especially when backed up with clinical studies.
Just one problem: FTC officials discovered that the company used bogus clinical studies and paid endorsements. Sensa raked in more than $364 million in sales between 2008 and 2012, while consumers lost money rather than weight.
The powder was marketed as a supplement to activate the part of the brain that helps control appetite. Therefore, Sensa claimed in its ads, dieters would feel full and eat less.
"The chances of being successful just by sprinkling something on your food...are slim to none — the science just isn't there," said Jessica Rich, director of FTC's consumer protection office.
As for the science cited by Sensa: False and deceptive, according to the FTC. Moreover, the endorsements sprinkled over the Sensa ads and Web site resulted from consumers who were paid for their praise. In addition, Alan Hirsch, a doctor who is part owner and wrote a promotional book, provided expert endorsements without scientific backing.
"We stand behind Sensa," Kristin Chadwick, Sensa Products' chief executive, said in a statement. "We continue to receive positive feedback from our customers and remain committed to developing products that help our No. 1 priority — our customers — live healthier, happier lives."
Ironically, the FTC release came out the same day that "Millionaire Matchmaker" Patti Stranger touted Sensa as the key to her weight loss. Talking with Bethenny Frankel on her talk show on Jan. 7, Patti told Bethenny that she had shed about 30 pounds.
The Sensa Web site quotes Patti in its celebrity weight loss section: "My schedule and my routine are always changing, but Sensa is so easy. You just sprinkle it on - what could be easier than that? I am living proof that it really works! And I love it!"