By Jon Hood
ConsumerAffairs.com

February 11, 2010
Former Biggest Loser Jillian Michaels is also a big liar, according to a class action lawsuit that calls a Michaels-endorsed diet supplement worthless.

The suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, says that the Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control supplement falsely claims that it will restrict your caloric intake automatically. The complaint quotes Michaels's website, www.jillianweightloss.com, as claiming that the drug is like an automatic diet. What could be easier! Print advertisements similarly boast, Two Capsules Before Main Meals And You Lose Weight. That's It.

Michaels's website which paradoxically claims that America's TOUGHEST trainer makes losing weight SIMPLE! calls the supplement a proprietary formula specifically developed to restrict your caloric intake automatically. In other words, when you take this compound before main meals, you eat less... but the best part is, you won't even know it.

Lead plaintiff Christie Christensen bought the supplement in January, and quickly discovered that it doesn't live up to the hype. According to the suit, Christensen bought the supplement after reviewing [and] believing the aforementioned claims, but, alas, her appetite did not decrease, her caloric intake was not automatically restricted, and she did not lose any weight.

Christensen's lawyer says the suit has brought more dissatisfied dieters out of the woodwork. We're getting calls from many people now as a result of this who claim they had been similarly misled, said Melissa Harnett, of Los Angeles-based Wasserman, Comden & Casselman LLP. When it's a celebrity who has built her fame on telling people that it takes blood, sweat and tears to lose weight and then turns around and capitalizes on that fame by putting out a product that inherently is contrary to the notion that you need to exercise and eat right to lose weight, there's something wrong with that picture.

The complaint takes a similarly disappointed tone, noting that while Michaels is fond of saying that long-term weight loss requires 'blood, sweat, and tears' she has decided to squander her fame by lending her name to to a worthless dietary supplement.

No FDA approval

Dietary supplements are not subject to FDA registration or approval. The Agency puts the onus on manufacturers to ensure the pills are suitable for sale, and generally only takes action if it discovers that an already-available pill is unsafe. Because of this relatively lax regulation framework, dietary supplements are notoriously hard to trust, and in rare cases they can prove dangerous or even deadly.

Last May, the FDA warned consumers to stop taking Hydroxycut after discovering that the popular supplement could cause serious liver damage. That notice came after the Agency received 23 reports of serious liver damage, and learned of at least one liver-failure-related death.

Christensen's suit is brought on behalf of all California residents who bought Michaels's supplement within the last four years, and alleges violations of several California consumer protection statutes. The complaint also names as defendants Thin Care International, which produces the supplement, and Basic Research, which handles the product's marketing.

The complaint quotes a valuable warning from the FDA, that applies across time and regardless of whether a supplement is the subject of litigation: [M]any people look for quick and easy solutions to their weight problems. They find it hard to believe in this age of scientific innovations and medical miracles that an effortless weight-loss method doesn't exist. Any claims that you can lose weight effortlessly are false.