District Attorneys from nine California counties recently announced that Sensa Products, maker of the "sprinkle diet," will pay $905,000 to settle a false advertising lawsuit over the company's claims that users could lose weight by sprinkling its flavored crystals on their food. Sensa advertised that its product enhances the sense of smell, thereby speeding up the process that causes a person to feel full and contributing to weight loss of more than 30 pounds without dieting or exercise. The majority of the settlement payment will cover civil penalties and each county's costs for the enforcement of California's consumer protection laws, while $105,000 will be used to provide restitution to California consumers. Sensa Products and its parent company, Intelligent Beauty Inc., are prohibited from making any further claims about the health effects of its products without competent and reliable scientific evidence that substantiates the claims, including a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical study conducted by qualified persons. The companies also cannot make claims that misrepresent the contents, results, or conclusions of any test, study or research relied upon as substantiation. The companies are prohibited from further violating consumer protection laws by enrolling customers in its shipment program without consent and a clear disclosure and charging for shipments sent after customers requested removal from the shipping list. The lawsuit was originally filed in Santa Cruz County by the district attorneys for Santa Cruz, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties.

Tip:  Similar to other lawsuits over products like the Ab Circle Pro and "toning shoes," claims regarding a product's purported health benefits must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence, ideally from independent clinical studies. Advertisers should use caution when making such claims, and ensure claims do not overstate or misinterpret the results of scientific studies.