In an unusual settlement, a seller of hoodia supplements has agreed to sell his vacation home in addition to ceasing to make unvalidated weight-loss claims. David J. Romeo and the two companies he controlled are accused of making false claims, such as calling hoodia “the world’s best chance at a cure for obesity.”
Romeo has a year to sell his Vermont country home and surrender the proceeds to the government, failing at this, he would face a $22.5 million fine. Other false statements cited by the Federal Trade Commission include claims that hoodia can reduce calorie intake by 1000 per day and “has many wonderful effects on the body, all of which are linked to the activity of the hypothalamus of the brain.”
The plaintiffs also say that some of the company’s products didn’t even contain Hoodia gordonii, an African cactus that bushmen have used as an appetite suppressant for generations. It’s unclear if the absence of the most touted ingredient would even contribute to the supplement’s ineffectiveness. According to the National Center for Alternative Medicine, “There is no reliable scientific evidence to support hoodia’s use.” NPR reports that the lawyer representing Romeo and his companies was unavailable for comment.