The marketing for the NutriMost Ultimate Fat Loss system claimed that users could drop 40 pounds, or more, in just 40 days, and without having to fret about calories. However, the Federal Trade Commission says that this $1,900 program is not backed by any science, actually requires a starvation-level diet, uses before-and-after examples from people related to the company, and forces customers to sign agreements that prevent them from saying anything bad about the program.
The FTC brought a complaint against Pennsylvania-based NutriMost, and the company’s owner, chiropractor Raymond Wisniewski, alleging deceptive business practices in violation of federal law.
In ads, the program guarantees that customers can “Lose 20 – 45+ Pounds in 40 Days,” and claims that you can target belly fat, reset your metabolism, and eliminate cravings, and includes before-and-after testimonials from users:
Yet, according to the FTC’s lawsuit [PDF], “Defendants have conducted no scientific studies to support the claims they have made regarding the NutriMost System, including the claims Defendants have made about the NutriMost System’s technology, embedding NutriMost Resonant Frequencies, scans, supplements, and weight loss and health-related results.”
As for those testimonials with the before-and-after photos? Renee seen in the picture above worked for the company, says the FTC, others were related to employees or were NutriMost franchisees, while the complaint claims that other testimonials — like the ones below from Gene and Carla — were from people who did not actually go through the NutriMost system as it was advertised:
The FTC contends that NutriMost failed to disclose that the connections and other relevant facts about these testimonials.
“Most weight loss programs will tell you that you have to count calories to lose weight,” read a statement on the NutriMost website. “Calories are not the key to losing weight. The most effective way to lose fat is balancing hormones and neurotransmitters, detoxifying the body and balancing vitamins and minerals in a way that gets you into an incredible fat burning zone.”
The FTC says this all seems to imply that NutriMost will not be just another calorie-deprivation weight loss program, but according to the complaint “after consumers purchase the NutriMost System, Defendants provide them with a Manual and a Journal that explain that the NutriMost System requires users to follow a very low-calorie diet of about 500 calories a day for more than 40 days.”
Oh, if you have anything bad to say about NutriMost, shut your hungry mouth. According to the complaint, in 2014 the company began including a non-disparagement agreement in its contract — the kind that was just outlawed by the recently passed Consumer Review Fairness Act — that tried to slap a $35,999 penalty for any statement that “disparages, criticizes or otherwise casts in a negative light,” the “effectiveness, results or credibility” of the NutriMost System, any of its services or products, its business practices, or any aspect of services received from NutriMost or any employee, officer, or manager.
A settlement order [PDF] in this case includes a $32 million judgment against NutriMost, though the company is currently only on the hook for $2 million of that. If it’s found that NutriMost isn’t being truthful about its finances, or doesn’t live up to its obligations under the deal, the FTC can go back for more.
As for those obligations, NutriMost must stop making misleading weight-loss and health claims that aren’t supported with competent and reliable scientific evidence. It must disclose to customers that this program requires a diet of less than 800 calories a day.