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Biggest Loser Trainer Sued For Pushing Supplements?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I came across this little article this morning on MSNBC about [the reason I don’t like] Jillian Michaels. Quoted below:

Jillian Michaels has been sued for alleged false advertising by a woman who claims she was duped into buying a diet supplement endorsed by the celebrity trainer.

Christie Christensen of Lake Elsinore, Calif., is seeking class-action status for the case she filed Tuesday in Los Angeles. Michaels is a hard-charging, no-nonsense trainer best-known as one of the stars of NBC’s hit reality show, “The Biggest Loser.” (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Christensen’s lawsuit claims she bought a product called “Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control” last month and that it has failed to lessen her appetite or cause her to lose weight as advertised.

Michaels’ picture and endorsement appear on the packaging, touting her as “America’s Toughest Trainer.” The product and a Web site advertising include the claim, “Two Capsules Before Main Meals and You Lose Weight … That’s It!”

“Ms. Michaels knows better — taking two pills before eating does not miraculously cause weight loss,” the lawsuit states.

The Web site and packaging however note that the statements haven’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Christensen is also suing Utah-based Basic Research, which manufactures and markets several diet and weight loss products endorsed by Michaels.

Michaels’ publicist, Heidi Krupp, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday. A representative of Basic Research said the company may issue a statement later Wednesday.

“Calorie Control” is not among the products that NBC lists for sale on its “Biggest Loser” Web site, which include video games, DVDs and equipment, some bearing Michaels’ image.”The Biggest Loser” has been a hit for NBC, often appearing in Nielsen Co.’s Top 20 rankings for prime-time TV programs.

Christensen’s suit seeks unspecified damages that are not expected to total more than $5 million. Her filing states she has “struggled with weight loss her entire life” and bought “Calorie Control” because of Michaels’ endorsement.

Now, I’ve got to tell you… although I don’t believe she will be successful in her case, I wish she would win it. Here’s why.

I know I’ve said this before, but I am not a lover of The Biggest Loser. I respect the contestants but the actual set up for the show itself doesn’t appeal to me (aside from the fact that I am simply not a lover of reality TV). I do enjoy the hustle and the polite reminder that hard work DOES have its payoffs, just… not at the expense of something else – lately, USA’s White Collar – on my screen.

A while back, I was looking up some information on a site, and came across this ad. It had Jillian Michaels – trademark sportsbra and tight spandexy pants outfit – with the question “How much weight do you have to lose?” and little buttons that said “10-20”, “20-40” and “50+.” Because I was curious, I just clicked on Jillian’s figure and waited for the ad to take me somewhere. Sure enough, it was a website pushing a diet pill. I thought it had to be someone using her image inappropriately – a la the Oprah/Dr. Oz ads that got someone sued a little while ago – but a quick trip to her website proved otherwise.

You mean to tell me that a woman who is the “toughest trainer in America” and works the hell out of people on a nationally syndicated television show weekly thinks it makes sense to push a pill that’s supposed to make weight loss “easier?”

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

I mean, seriously – if weight loss pills worked, would we need trainers? Would gyms be as successful? A woman who makes a living whipping people into shape allows a company to use her likeness for something that – if it worked – would essentially end her field?

And that’s another thing – if the pill works so well, why aren’t we seeing her make her trainees on Biggest Loser take it? It just sounds like she sat in a back room with her managers and said, “Well hell, if people aren’t gonna listen and still want to take pills, then let me get my cut.” Which, no… I can’t knock her hustle if that’s what happened, but dang if I don’t feel like she should be taken to task for misleading the public like that.

I’m going to write more extensively about this in the future, but read my words: pills don’t/won’t do for you what you need. I’d bet my OWN weight loss on it. In fact, I did. Like, three times. Save your money and buy some nice shoes instead.

I admire Jillian a lot. I aspire to one day be an all-star-lean-mean-training type. I appreciate what she does on Biggest Loser. What I don’t dig, however, is that she allowed her good name and image to be put on a scam product to make a little money… especially considering how she has daily reminders of the result of people being scammed by “quick” and “easy” solutions. Those contestants. Nine seasons worth.

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Tracy February 13, 2010 - 7:22 PM

I agree with this post. When I first started seeing the products, I thought I was tripping. For someone that wants us to lose weight healthily, how can she push a diet pill? Specifically, she has a product that is a “detox,” or some sort of “jump start.” Do we really need to jump start our weight loss? Does she jump start the people that appear in the Biggest Loser? Jillian is living a double life. She is preaching one thing on the Biggest Loser, yet saying something else (via advertisement and the use of her likeness on these products) in an effort to make some cheddar. I can’t hate on her for making her money, but she’s killing her credibility.

PhluffyPrincess February 17, 2010 - 12:38 PM

My goodness – I could not agree with you more. I am seriously disappointed in Michaels. I bought into the Biggest Loser, hook, line and sinker. Bought a NordicTrack elliptical, the 30 day shred, etc. all endorsed by Jillian. And the thing is, its just like you stated, attaching her name to this product is just her way of getting paid. Which I cannot respect. With any profession, integrity is crucial and she just lost a huge portion of hers.

Cryssy February 21, 2010 - 3:30 PM

i will say her 30 day shred is no joke and gives you a really good work out! As for this other foolishness Jilian knows better you’re right! I can’t for the life of my why she would think that this would be ok?!

Erika February 21, 2010 - 3:34 PM

It’s just such a contradiction – you became famous from a show that pushes the virtues of hard work. So make money on the side selling the easy way “out?” You’re joking. Orrr…. maybe this is just another sign that we need to be careful with the people to whom we grant credibility? Hmmmm!

Tracy, I knew you’d feel me!

Phluffy (love that name, LOL), that’s why I don’t want to really go in on Biggest Loser at all… because my opinion is an unpopular one. VERY unpopular, LOL.

Cryssy, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the 30 Day Shred, so I’ll take your word for it on that one, LOL.

Crystal December 22, 2010 - 12:52 PM

Now this is a hot ashy mess! it does tend to make one wonder if off camera, these people aren’t being solicited to take diet pills of some kind to increase their heart rate and adrenaline into losing weight quicker….hmmmmmmm. This article was/is an eye-opener for real.

Elita @ Blacktating May 21, 2010 - 11:34 AM

How did I miss this? I have been defending Jillian in the blogosphere lately because I truly believe in her message. I have all of her work out DVDs. NONE of them are a joke. I love Jillian as a motivator. While you watch the DVDs, she is telling you how strong and healthy you are becoming. She has never (in my opinion) been about a number on the scale or fitting into skinny jeans. Jillian has always been about pushing your body to its physical limits so that you can become stronger and that when you become stronger, you will notice it in every aspect of your life. One of my favorite things she says during The Shred is, “I know this is hard, but if I am going to make big promises to you guys, you’re going to have to work hard for them. That knot in your gut right now is fear leaving the body.” Man, this makes me sad. I am going to hope this was just a misstep, a bad business decision on the part of her and her managers and that something like this won’t happpen again.

Oh, and I’ve never seen the Biggest Loser. I learned about Jillian through one of my favorite bloggers who used the Shred to lose the baby weight and blogged her experience with pictures on her website.

Erika May 21, 2010 - 11:42 AM

I am going to hope this was just a misstep, a bad business decision on the part of her and her managers and that something like this won’t happpen again.

I’m hoping so, but it’s looking like she’s seeking to simply dominate the fitness industry now while her image is so big. Along with her new show coming this summer… I can’t help but wonder what other “products” we’ll see her name on in the future. Sigh.

Nix June 23, 2010 - 10:08 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I didn’t see why she went into the pill pushing business. To me it went against what she has been saying all along about hard work, exercise and diet… seriously!

Chocolate September 19, 2010 - 11:47 AM

I lost all respect for Jillian when she got into the hoopla of promoting diet products. She wanted to make fore money find another way of doing so instead of promoting false hopes of diet supplements.

Jacqueline October 22, 2010 - 11:02 AM

SMH. I just deleted her from my facebook “like” pages because of this. She promoted some caffeine pill yesterday to promote weight loss and I sat back and said to myself “Jillian, what happened to you?”

It is a huge contradiction, like you said her for her to promote all these workouts on the show and then push these pills on the side.

Money or not, you have to have common sense sometimes and she lost it when she agreed to have her face on these products.

I was wondering... December 22, 2010 - 9:42 AM

A little late commenting on this post, however I do remember seeing her “diet pills” and being very disappointed. I had never watched the biggest loser, however a friend introduced me to JM’s workout videos a few years ago, and they made a big difference in my workout regimen. They pretty much jumpstarted my weight loss, and I began to look out for any videos that featured Jillian. In all of her workouts, she focused on hard work to see results. This is why I was so shocked and appalled by her endorsing a diet pill. I thought that someone stole her image as well, but the pills were on her website. I think that this is reckless use of her image and influence on Americans who are trying to become more healthy.

The Fitness Enthusiast January 13, 2011 - 1:02 AM

I do not know much about jillian micheals, all I know is I see her in the news often for doing something that is bad.

its like every other time i hear her name i hear she sold a crap supplement, or gave dangerous uneducated instruction on how to do a certain lift in a video.

so, right now, without knowing much about her, I am going to have to default to staying neutral, and say she is a good actress (she is on TV), with a questioned amount of knowledge about fitness.

Dvine January 25, 2011 - 11:24 AM

pills is not the answer.. ppl see celebrities pushing weight loss supplements and automatically believe this is how they got to look this way.. DUH, she is a trainer, she has a show.. ppl should know better.. ppl need to have more common sense.. If you read the labels on this diet pills, they always say, with moderate diet and exercise..

i feel sorry for her because i too struggle w/weight loss but i hope she doesn’t win… maybe she’ll use her better judgment..

Weight Watchers may have been a better option for her..

Bernice February 22, 2011 - 11:12 PM

There is a lot of crap out there that says it’s going to work and then doesn’t. It depends on body type as well. I think Christensen is just being a whiny cry baby and should just try soemthing else, like maybe exercise and a salad. Sounds like she’s the type of person who would sue McDonald’s for her weight gain. Maybe she should try Xenadrine and then sue Robbie or whoever from the Jersey Shore for endorsing that.

Courtney July 7, 2011 - 8:23 PM

The exact ad you mention in the article is advertised next to it. LOL

Tiera September 12, 2011 - 11:36 AM

Ok. This one, I am a little on the fence about. I love Jillian. I really admire her…a lot lol. I must admit, I never thought she would be the one putting pills on the market because she is so rampant about eating right and exercising. I may be a little disappointed about that, but my disappointment at the lady overshadows that. She knows that the only way she can lose weight is to exercise and learn something about self-control. She should learn more about food and what’s healthy or not. Now, when I say “self-control,” I don’t mean starve. I mean learning to listen to your body. That means eat [healthy foods] until you are no longer hungry, not necessarily until you clear your plate. That also doesn’t mean drastically cut your calories. Remember, weight loss is a gradual process. If your are used to consuming 3,000 calories a day, then lower your calorie intake to something reasonable like maybe, um, 2,200 calories a day. Then as your body re-adjusts, you can begin to lower your calorie intake some more. Don’t just go from consuming 3,00 calories daily to like 1,200 calories daily. My best advice would be to consult a nutritionist in order to get the proper diet plan.

NOTBUYINGIT! January 19, 2012 - 8:59 PM

A pill “MAY” help you lose weight but only YOU CAN KEEP IT OFF!

Jillian knows better..

Weight loss is only the first step people!

Remember it is not about quick answers, its a lifestyle choice you need to make.

Your weight/health goals are not a “SPRINT” but a “MARATHON”, one you live with for the rest of your life.

So don’t stress about losing weight, enjoy learning something new about yourself.

Amber January 15, 2013 - 2:32 AM

Oh no! Don’t jump all over my boo like that! (I’m sorry, I LUV me some Jillian) She has a really great podcast where she discusses some of these claims against her. I would really encourge you guys to check it out before villainizing (is that a word?) her. A while back (and one of the main reasons why she left BL in the first place), her contract didn’t protect her against the use of her image on products that she didn’t believe in. And with the products that she does promote now (fat burners, not necessarily diet pills), she always stresses that there are no miracles. It takes hard work and watching your nutrition. But if you can gain an extra 10% of a pound loss from a fat burner, as long as it’s not dangerous for your health, then that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ll try to find a link or some reference information to the podcast specifically. I just subscribe on iTunes. But please, PLEASE, have some mercy on her and remember that things aren’t always what they seem.

Erika Nicole Kendall January 15, 2013 - 11:39 AM

“A while back (and one of the main reasons why she left BL in the first place), her contract didn’t protect her against the use of her image on products that she didn’t believe in.”

I’d be really interested in hearing her discuss this, especially since she is currently BACK on BL.

Also: fat burners are glorified caffeine pills. Save the money and buy some good coffee. Jeez.

The Mighty Quinn January 15, 2013 - 2:48 AM

I have never been a fan of the show and of her style of motivation. But I am definitely in the minority. As a former athlete, I don’t respond to that humiliation type motivation.
One problem with the suit is 95% of ALL diets fail, so if this woman can sue Jillian, then people will have cause to sue Nutri, WW, Jenny.
The real travesty here is Jillian herself, to be so high and mighty about fitness, to sell a ridiculous amount of fitness dvds and advice, As far as I know, she has no degree in phys ed or nutrition but yet people see her as an expert. I have long said that so many people get fitness jobs because they look the part, not necessarily that they know what they are doing for other people.

MsBridget January 15, 2013 - 9:31 AM

I noticed a LONG time ago she had her name linked to ALL kinds of products. It’s clearly for the $$$$$$. She has a cleanse on the market, but on The Biggest Loser she told her team that they DON’T need cleanses. The ONLY cleanse they need is WATER! I guess she didn’t know that her face on a on a box that was marked “cleanse.” She’s lost all credibility with me.

Renee H. January 15, 2013 - 9:34 AM
Dominique March 26, 2013 - 4:33 PM

I thought the same thing when I saw her pills. Even more so now that I’ve read her book “Master Your Metabolism”. It talks about being a diet book but it’s basically about clean eating and why it’s great to NOT try to take the easy way out (pills/supplements/crazy diets). Her brand is very scattered.

Liv March 22, 2014 - 8:20 PM

The biggest loser unfortunately is a guilty pleasure for me and last season, Jillian’s team was actually penalized for their use of caffeine pills. While I’m a fan of her work out DVDs, the admiration pretty much stops there. She has always had questionable methods for loosing weight when it comes to dietary recommendations, she’s even admitted to changing her positions on everything from calorie content to actual food choices. I nearly laughed out loud when she said she stood by her belief that caffeine pills are healthier than actual coffee. Like with any fitness industry professional, you pretty much have to take everything they say with a grain of salt and take the time to do you own research before committing to any fitness program or major dietary changes. God knows money can be a strong motivator in just about anything.

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