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Posted November 29, 2012

Sensa Settles Second False Advertising Lawsuit

On November 27, 2012, Sensa Products LLC, maker of the Sensa Weight Loss System, announced it agreed to settle a false advertising lawsuit filed by the Nutritional Supplemental Task Force in California, without an admission of guilt. The company will pay $105,000 for restitution to consumers of Sensa, and $800,000 to be used for "the enforcement of consumer protection laws."

The lawsuit contended that while the company advertised their weight loss system was backed by "the largest clinical study ever conducted," Sensa's study did not meet Federal Trade Commission(FTC) guidelines to make this claim.

Sensa has since removed the word "clinical" from its online description of the study, and is prohibited by the settlement from making further claims about its products' efficacy without competent and reliable scientific evidence, as defined by the FTC.

Additionally, the company agreed it would not enroll customers in an automatic shipment program without full disclosure and consent.

A second lawsuit, a class action filed by a consumer who said she used Sensa as directed and "did not experience the promised benefits," was also recently settled by the company. The complaint stated that Sensa advertised consumers could "lose 30 pounds without dieting," referring to the same study targeted by the lawsuit brought by the Nutritional Supplemental Task Force. According to the plaintiff, Sensa was promoted as "clinically proven to result in an average weight loss of 30.5 pounds in just six months," and that this weight loss could occur by "eating your favorite foods," with "no restrictive dieting," "no calorie counting" and "no sacrifice."

Statements in advertising and on labels that were listed by the plaintiff as "misleading and deceptive claims" included:

  • No stimulants
  • No food restrictions
  • No calorie counting
  • No skipping meals or fasting
  • No drastic lifestyle changes
  • No intense cravings
  • No jittery side effects
  • No "yo-yo" effect
  • No mood swings
  • Clinically proven
  • Guaranteed

In the settlement, Sensa denied any wrongdoing and maintained these claims were not misleading or deceptive. Sensa agreed to establish a settlement fund of up to $9 million to compensate consumers who purchased the weight loss system or individual Sensa products before August 15, 2012. Consumers seeking compensation from this fund must submit a claim form by December 13, 2012.

Sensa contains maltodextrin, tricalcium phosphate, silica, natural and artificial flavors, and soy and milk ingredients formed into sprinkles called "tastants." The company claims adding tastants to food enhances the food's fragrance and triggers the brain mechanism that signals fullness, allowing consumers to "eat less and feel more satisfied."

In addition to the study highlighted in the recent lawsuits, the company conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 83 test subjects. At the end of six months, people using Sensa had an average weight loss of 27.58 pounds, while those taking placebo had an average weight gain of 0.34 pounds. Neither study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal to date.

See's Review of Weight Loss Supplements for tests of related products.

For more information about the settlement, use the link below.