Losing Weight with Charles and Dan: Examining Potential Liability for Endorser Claims in Weight Loss Advertisements

Natasha T. Brison
Andrew C. Pickett
and Katie M. Brown

The weight loss industry in America accounts for billions of dollars annually. Many products and programs are endorsed by sport celebrities and promote quick-fix (ineffective) remedies. As a result, these advertisements are often involved in investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for false or misleading claims. Unfortunately, endorsers may not understand they can be held liable for these claims. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the statements made by athletes that may give rise to potential liability for false claims in weight loss management advertising. A content analysis of weight loss management program advertisements featuring athletes was conducted (N = 42) to determine the presence of deceptive or potentially misleading statements using FTC guidelines. Results demonstrate multiple potential FTC violations regarding false or misleading claims by athletes. In turn, the authors provide recommendations for sport celebrity endorsers regarding best practices for weight loss program endorsements.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.32731/SMQ.292.062020.05