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Mexico, United States, Canada Combat Weight Loss Fraud


Over 700 Compliance Actions Taken Since 2003

Under a Trilateral Cooperation Charter agreement between Mexico, United States and Canada signed in 2003, six agencies (two from each country) today announced that they have taken nearly 730 compliance actions against companies that promote bogus weight loss products that mislead the public, endanger the public health, and provide false hope and defraud citizens of billions of dollars.

“False and misleading claims can have significant health consequences for those who use these products that do not produce the desired results,” said Dr. Murray Lumpkin, Deputy Commissioner (International and Special Programs) at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “The collaborative efforts of all three countries have contributed to these enforcement actions and we look forward to continuing our trilateral initiatives to make North Americans healthier and able to make better informed health care decisions.”

“International cooperation is the key to fighting weight-loss scams that target all consumers, regardless of geographic borders,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Whether we are working on law enforcement sweeps or on education for consumers and businesses, our successes in the health fraud area are sweeter when we coordinate our efforts.”

Fighting weight loss fraud is a key priority for all three countries as unprecedented numbers of citizens of all ages have become either overweight or obese and this trend shows no sign of abating. According to the World Health Organization, more than 60 percent of United States and Mexican citizens and more than 50 percent of Canadians are overweight or obese.

Obesity and overweight are major contributors to chronic disease and disability. These conditions pose major long-term public health risks requiring proven and effective treatments, not bogus diet products or programs that promise miracle solutions. These fraudulent products and programs target vulnerable consumers and simply don’t work.

Compliance actions taken include efforts such as prosecutions, recalls, seizures, import refusals, warnings and other enforcement programs against false and misleading weight loss advertising and labeling, as well as the promotion of voluntary industry compliance. These compliance and enforcement actions are complemented by a comprehensive education and public outreach program to help consumers, industry and advertisers to identify which types of claims are deceptive and misleading.

The Canada-Mexico-US Trilateral Cooperation provides the three countries with a formal mechanism to work closely together to better protect, promote and advance human health in North America. Its purpose is to increase communication, collaboration and the exchange of information in the areas of drugs, biologics, medical devices, food safety and nutrition.

These compliance actions were taken by member agencies of MUCH (Mexico, United States, Canada Health Fraud Working Group), one of several working groups formed by the Trilateral Cooperation Charter. MUCH consists of regulatory officials from health, consumer protection and competition agencies in Mexico [Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), Office of the Federal Attorney for Consumer Protection (PROFECO)], the United States (Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration) and Canada (Health Canada, Competition Bureau).

The three countries remind consumers that the only way to lose weight is to follow a sensible, well-balanced diet that lowers caloric intake and/or increase physical activity. While certain prescription products have been found to be safe and effective in promoting weight loss, the best proven method remains sensible diet and exercise.

For more information about the MUCH group, the MUCH weight loss initiative and the Trilateral Cooperation Agreement, see the attached Fact Sheet and visit the Trilateral Cooperation website at:


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