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Co. Settles Weight Loss Claim Suit

May 13, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government has barred a fitness company from making claims about how much weight customers can lose using its equipment without credible evidence to back up those assertions.

Fitness Quest Inc. had claimed in its advertisements that consumers could shed 1,000 calories an hour on its exercise gliders and lose significant weight in a month by using its abdominal machine for three minutes daily.

The Federal Trade Commission said the company could not substantiate the claims and on Wednesday announced a settlement that would prevent the company from making them without supporting evidence.

Fitness Quest had said its Gazelle Glider, SkyTrek and Airofit could burn three times more calories than are burned while walking and nearly twice the calories burned while cross-country skiing.

In addition to the gliders, the Canton, Ohio-based company also marketed two abdominal devices _ Abs Only Machine and Ab Isolator, which it said were twice as effective as regular sit-ups.

Advertisements included testimonials from owners of the equipment who spoke about their weight-loss and weight-maintenance experience. But the FTC charged that the company had no basis to claim that these experiences were typical for most users.

Fitness Quest made no admission of liability and stressed that it stopped running the advertisements in question in 1997.

``We make a concerted effort to ensure we are able to stand behind any statement made about our products,″ said the company’s president, Robert Schnabel Jr. ``Our goal is to make and market top-quality, affordable health equipment to help customers meet their fitness objectives. We rely on our customers’ trust to establish that.″

Under the settlement, the company is specifically prohibited from making claims about weight loss, calorie burning or spot reduction from its products without adequate substantiation.

The company must also include in its endorsements a statement about what the typical experience of users should be or a disclosure indicating that consumers should not expect results similar to those in the testimonials.

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