Stricter government regulations regarding commercial speech that promotes weight-loss or diet products should be considered for three reasons. First, studies have shown that diet industry advertising often makes weight loss claims that are scientifically impossible. Second, consumers have suffered adverse health effects as a result of trying weight-loss programs or diet products. Third, current FTC regulations are not curbing the problem. Part II of this note outlines the history of commercial speech and its protections under the First Amendment, along with the history of the rapidly expanding diet industry and its regulatory framework. Part II examines the three arguments in support of stricter governmental regulations on advertising in the diet industry. Part III looks at FTC studies that have shown dietary advertisements actually are blatantly false, not just misleading. Part III also outlines numerous cases where a consumer's trust in diet advertisements led to adverse health problems for that consumer. Part III discusses why neither the FTC's actions of filing suit against manufacturers, nor the possibility of media regulation, would be sufficient to solve the problem. Finally, this note offers an explanation as to why the current methods of addressing puffery and misleading advertising in the diet industry are not sufficient.
Note, First Amendment and Diet Industry Advertising: How Puffery in Weight-Loss Advertisements Has Gone Too Far, 20 J.L. & Health 325 (2006-2007)