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When 'Fad' Diets Go Wrong, Can You Sue?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

A pill here, a “master cleanse” there. Fad diets have become a mainstay in our quest for health and wellness. We channel our inner-Jack LaLanne as we swallow supplements, or shortcut diet pills, and try to become our best selves. But sometimes things don’t go as planned and the next thing you know, that detox mix is making you vomit blood. Ah, wellness.

But when fad diets go wrong, can you sue?

Placenta and Beyond

From placenta to cayenne juice cleanses, people try strange dietary regiments for the sake of a healthy glow. If you get inspired by January Jones to nibble on afterbirth, but fall virulently ill afterwards, know that you might be out of legal luck.

When you use products for a purpose they're not intended for, you may find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit. Placenta pills, for example, are often used for infertility treatment, but aren't FDA-approved for weight loss, depression, or general wellness.

For fringe diet fads, the court may well find that you assumed the risk of getting injured from ingesting things you have no business ingesting in the first place.


The over-the-counter vitamin and energy supplement industry has seen its fair share of lawsuits. For those of you with a penchant for supplements, remember that vitamins, herbs, dietary supplements and alternative medicines aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, it's the dietary supplement manufacturer -- not the FDA -- who is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. Manufacturers must also make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading.

Such unregulated self-policing has lead to countless lawsuits. In some cases, supplement manufacturers have been embroiled in wrongful death claims.

A wrongful death occurs when a person is killed due to another person's negligence or misconduct. A successful wrongful death claim stemming from dietary pills can result from a variety of negligent acts like mislabeling or a mix-up at a factory that includes a lethal dose of a vitamin.


For diet products that you believe simply don't work, you may be able to sue the maker for false advertising and unfair and deceptive business practices.

What makes this tricky, however, is that diet product instructions typically say to use the product in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise. If you claim to have used the pill as directed and it doesn't work, expect the maker to contest that by questioning your daily dose of diet and exercise.

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