ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: The New Lifestyle Company Ltd
The New Lifestyle Company Ltd t/a
23 Bell Street
17 March 2004
Health and beauty
Objection to a magazine advertisement for a slimming programme. The advertisement was headed "Lose weight permanently and quickly with The SureSlim Quick Loss Programme". It stated "... SureSlim specialise in providing weight loss programmes that address each person''s unique biology. There is no group therapy, no drugs, no magic shakes and no starvation diets; just confidential personal programmes to produce optimum weight loss whilst working with the hormones that control your body weight ... The programme can address medical problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. When clients reach their chosen goal weight, the consultants will guide them through the Lifestyle Maintenance Programme to ensure that they maintain the weight loss ...". A box listed several features of the slimming regime, including "Lose 10-22 lbs a month (men lose even more) We work with the hormones that control your body weight The programme is medically backed ...". The complainant challenged:
1. the efficacy of the programme;
2. the claim "We work with the hormones that control your body weight";
3. whether the programme could address high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and
4. the claim "The programme is medically backed".
The Authority challenged:
5. whether the claimed weight loss was in accordance with sound medical and nutritional advice.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The advertisers said they offered a nutritional programme that controlled the hormones insulin and growth hormone, which affected weight loss. They said they tailored the programme according to the individual needs of their clients. The advertisers sent: documents that explained the features of the programme; the rationale behind the programme and the role of growth hormone; an example of an enrolment form and a letter sent to clients'' GPs; an example of a pathology test report for a client; two articles and brief details of a third article published in peer-reviewed scientific journals; an article taken from the website of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (AAAAM); and brief, anonymous, results of the weight loss and cholesterol reduction achieved by 100 of their clients.
1., 2. & 3. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said their programme aimed to balance insulin levels and stimulate release of growth hormone by reducing levels of blood glucose. They said they let their clients decide the rate at which they wanted to lose weight but expected that clients would lose about 10 lbs per month. The advertisers said their programme instructed clients to follow a diet that would balance insulin levels and also stimulate growth hormone so as to metabolise fat and promote growth of lean muscle. The Authority noted one of the scientific papers discussed the role of Mediterranean and low-fat diets in improving endothelial function and the other proposed a physiological system that might perpetuate obesity once it had developed. It noted the article from the AAAAM website stated that insulin was one of the regulators of two enzymes responsible for fat storage and argued that a reduction in carbohydrate intake could reduce insulin levels and thereby reduce fat storage. The Authority noted, however, that the advertisers did not show how their programme regulated insulin or growth hormone. It noted the advertisers'' evidence that 100 of their patients had lost weight and had their cholesterol reduced, but considered that, because the advertisers did not provide controlled clinical studies that showed how the advertisers'' method controlled insulin and growth hormone production or provide clinically controlled tests of the programme''s efficacy, they had not substantiated the claim that their programme controlled the hormones that controlled body weight and thus led to weight loss and cholesterol and blood pressure reduction. It told the advertisers to ensure that they could provide scientific evidence of the mechanism and efficacy of their weight-loss programme in future.
4. Complaint upheld
The advertisers said their programme was scientifically researched and they had a multidisciplinary team that comprised a doctor, pathologists, a psychologist and a clinical nutritionist; they said they also had access to the Centre for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The Authority considered that the claim implied that the advertisers'' weight-loss programme was recognised or endorsed by the medical profession. Because the advertisers had not demonstrated that is was, the Authority concluded that the claim was misleading. It asked the advertisers to amend the claim.
The advertisers stated that they expected their patients to lose up to 10 lbs per month. The Authority noted the advertisement stated that participants on the programme could lose between 10 lb and 22 lbs per month. It noted, moreover, that the claim that patients could lose 10lbs per month was over the recommended limit for effective, long-term weight loss. It told the advertisers to ensure that future weight loss claims were in line with sound medical and nutritional advice.
The Authority advised the advertisers to contact the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.