Maybe she should try water.
“Diet” soda does not pretend to help consumers lose weight, a California appeals court has ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by a woman who chugged it for more than a decade, yet failed to trim down.
“The prevalent understanding of the term in (the marketplace) is that the ‘diet’ version of a soft drink has fewer calories than its ‘regular’ counterpart,” a three-judge panel with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decreed earlier this week.
“Just because some consumers may unreasonably interpret the term differently does not render the use of ‘diet’ in a soda’s brand name false or deceptive.”
The ruling comes in response to a fraud suit filed by Shana Becerra against the company behind Diet Dr Pepper. A lower court threw out her lawsuit, leading to the 9th Circuit’s concurring decision.
The Santa Rosa, Calif., woman claimed she’d been swindled into purchasing the beverage for 13 years in an attempt to whittle her waist — but had yet to shed a single pound.
The appeals court found that when “diet” is used as an adjective, as it is on the soda cans, it refers to something with fewer calories than the “regular” version of the product.
The woman also claimed she’d been misled, since “attractive, fit models in the ads implies that Diet Dr Pepper will help its consumers achieve those bodies,” yet the court disagreed in its decision, written by Judge Jay Bybee.
Ads depicting slim and beautiful people using the products “cannot be reasonably understood to convey any specific meaning at all,” Bybee wrote.
The same court last week shot down an attempt at appeal by Becerra in her lawsuit against Diet Coke for similar claims.
She alleged in her 2017 actions that she “did not receive what she paid for,” when she purchased the beverages. She additionally alleged that studies have shown that the artificial sweetener aspartame used in the sodas actually causes weight gain.
Aspartame, meanwhile, has been approved for consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is used in many low-calorie products.
Because the court ruled that Becerra failed to show false advertising and fraud by the companies, it was not forced to consider aspartame’s possible side effects.