'Superfood' Acai May Not Be Worth Price

Days later, we were billed $29.95 by a company called Fit Factory. When we called its toll-free number, we were told that "we have nothing to do with acai," but by accepting the trial offer, we had been automatically enrolled in a fitness Web site and would continue to be sent the product and be billed monthly until we canceled the order.

Our bank said it couldn't remove the charge, but Fit Factory's customer service offered to credit our bank account. We received the credit today.

When asked about the company's business practices, Braybon Spier of Fit Factory said, "We do get phone calls like this from time to time."

Spier said people don't read the "fine print" when placing their acai orders. "But we do have a lot of satisfied customers who have lost weight. I personally use it myself."

So I returned to the original Web site and called the manufacturer. In my excitement ordering acai, I must have inadvertently glazed over the "terms of agreement," which advised us to call and cancel our order within 14 days, or we'd be charged $89.31 every 31 days for a new supply of acai.

But there was no mention of a $29.95 Fit Factory membership.

And now Oz, whose name is associated with nearly every Web ad for acai, said Oprah's lawyers have been contacting some of the companies that sell acai.

'Not Where I Would Put My Money'

"One of the companies took one of the things I said and made claims that I endorsed their product," he said.

"Neither Oprah Winfrey nor Dr. Oz endorse or are associated with any acai berry product or on-line solicitation of such products," said Harpo spokeman Don Halcombe. "Harpo lawyers are aggressively pursuing all of the companies that we know about or are reported to us."

What Oz did say to television viewers is that acai "looked like a health food with nutritional benefits."

"We were looking at foods that have deep colors," said Oz. "These naturally colorful ones reflect antioxidant power."

As far as those weight-loss properties, Oz said, "I'd be surprised if by itself acai could help."

But, he confided, "it's not going to hurt you, and it's as good an antioxidant as anything else. That's not where I would put my money."

The best way to lose weight, according to Oz, is to avoid simple carbohydrates and incorporate the right nutrients into one's diet, lose that fat around the waist, exercise and add fruits, vegetables and fiber to the diet.

"All other things like supplements have limited benefits," he said. "If you order French fries, a Big Mac and a large coke, you're not going to lose weight and even the acai isn't going to help."

My husband and I learned that the hard way. "I have noticed nothing," he told me this morning, now nearly two weeks into our miracle diet. "I don't feel any different. No thumbs up for me."

But he did comment on a certain "glow" in my face. It must be the acai.

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