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Celebrity endorsements: Who's selling what

Don't be starstruck by supplements

Consumer Reports magazine: March 2012

Game time
Former NFL coach and current Fox broadcast analyst Jimmy Johnson has pitched ExtenZe.

Sports idols and reality-TV stars have been touting dietary supplements recently, including the former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson pitching a sex-enhancement pill for men and the Kardashian sisters promoting weight-loss formulas. (See below to find out whether celebrities use the bodybuilding, weight-loss, or sexual-enhancement products they plug.) We've long told consumers to beware of supplements marketed to help them slim down or improve their performance in the gym or the bedroom. Like all supplements, those products are allowed to come to market without proof they're safe and effective. And testing by the Food and Drug Administration has increasingly found hidden and potentially harmful ingredients—controlled substances, undisclosed prescription drugs, and untested pharmaceutically active ingredients—in products marketed for those purposes.

"We've had more than 400 recalls of spiked products since 2008," says Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., director of the FDA's division of dietary-supplement programs. Most were marketed for bodybuilding, sexual enhancement, and weight loss.

Specific lots of the Johnson-endorsed ExtenZe were voluntarily recalled in 2011 after the FDA found that some packages were counterfeit and contained undeclared drug ingredients that could pose a serious health risk. They included the prescription erectile dysfunction drugs sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis), and sibutramine, a weight-loss drug that was voluntarily withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2010 because of evidence that it increased heart-attack and stroke risk.

Trade groups that represent the supplement industry have said they support the FDA's crackdown on spiked products.

We spoke with representatives for MusclePharm and RipFire Xcelerate, two of the products in the box below, who said their supplements are independently tested and certified to help ensure they don't contain banned or undeclared substances. A representative for MYO-T12 said in an e-mail message that it is produced and tested in a facility that complies with the FDA's standards for good manufacturing practices.

Bottom line. Consult a doctor or pharmacist before trying a supplement. To slim down, focus on diet and exercise. Build muscles by weight training. And consult a doctor if you need help in the bedroom, since it could indicate an underlying health problem. To get FDA alerts on supplements or report an adverse event, go to www.fda.gov/food/dietarysupplements.

Endorsements “must reflect the celebrity’s honest experience or opinion,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. We called or wrote to representatives of the following famous names to ask whether the person used the supplement they were plugging and how much they were paid.

Bodybuilding

Who: Michael Vick, quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Product: MusclePharm, a line of supplements the company claims can enhance performance and mental function, boost endurance, build muscle, speed recovery, fuel fat loss, improve sleep, or enhance libido.

Pitch: “Our sport is our life,” says an ad featuring Vick in a MusclePharm T-shirt.

Does he use it? “I take MuscleGels and the Armor-V every day,” Vick said in an e-mail message from his rep. His three-year, $1.55 million endorsement deal includes performance bonuses.

Who: Pro running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens.

Product: RipFire Xcelerate, a supplement marketed to enhance overall workout performance and maximize results.

Pitch: “With Ripfire you’ll feel increased energy and endurance with every workout,” says a TV commercial that features Rice.

Does he use it? Rice was not available for an interview, a representative said.

Who: Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Product: MYO-T12, which the company says inhibits the body’s production of myostatin, a protein that restricts muscle growth.

Pitch: “Keeping in shape is tough work,” Gretzky says in a national magazine ad. “It gets tougher as we get older.”

Does he use it? Gretzky takes the product every morning, his agent said. His one-year, $150,000 deal includes company stock.

Weight loss

Who: Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney Kardashian of the E! reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Product: QuickTrim, a line that includes supplements with the claim that they help burn calories and boost metabolism.

Pitch: “Create the body you deserve!” Kourtney says, wearing a purple bikini in an online ad. “I’ve reached my goal!”Kim says in another. “I love my new body!” Khloé says.

Do they use it? The sisters were not available for an interview, a representative said.

Who: Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, a star of the MTV reality series “Jersey Shore.”

Product: Xenadrine Ultra, a supplement that is supposed to help users “lose more weight.”

Pitch: “I’m Ronnie from ‘Jersey Shore’ and keeping it real is what it’s all about,” Ortiz-Magro says in a TV commercial. “That’s why I use Xenadrine.”

Does he use it? Multiple attempts to reach Ortiz-Magro were unsuccessful.

Sexual enhancement

Who: Jimmy Johnson, two-time Super Bowl-winning coach and Fox Sports analyst.

Product: ExtenZe, a sexual-enhancement supplement for men.

Pitch: “If you’re like me and want maximum performance, give ExtenZe a try,” Johnson says in a TV commercial that ran last year.

Does he use it? Multiple attempts to reach Johnson were unsuccessful.

Editor's Note: This report was made possible by a grant from the Airborne Cy Pres Fund, which was established through a legal settlement of a national class-action lawsuit (Wilson v. Airborne Health, Inc., et al.) regarding deceptive-advertising practices.
   

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