ASA Adjudication on IntraMed Ltd
St Peter Port
26 November 2008
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A direct mailing for VitaSvelt capsules was headlined "DROP UP TO 4 DRESS SIZES". It contained various claims for the efficacy of the product as a weight loss solution. Headlines stated: "VitaSvelt is currently the only slimming product that can give you these amazing results thanks to the powerful action of Negative Calories"; "Lose 22lbs easily! 100% natural!; "Each capsule is packed with all the goodness found in 7 1/2 lbs of fresh cut vegetables!" and "VitaSvelt - Lose weight fast eating your favourite foods". The mailing contained various "before" and "after" photos and a number of testimonials.
Three complainants challenged whether:
1. the efficacy claims for the product could be substantiated;
2. the advertisers could substantiate "the powerful action of negative calories";
3. the claim "Vitasvelt contains the essence of 7 ½ lbs of fresh vegetables in a single super-slimming capsule" could be substantiated;
4. the claim "you eat, therefore you lose weight" was misleading and could be substantiated;
5. the claim "Will power plays no part in it and you do not have to deprive yourself of any of your favourite foods" was misleading and could be substantiated;
6. the claim "VitaSvelt has been officially approved by slimming professionals in more than 32 countries" was misleading and could be substantiated
7. the claim "not only do you lose weight ... but you reinforce your immune system and smooth running of your metabolism" was misleading and could be substantiated; and
8. the claim "Is it true that no dieting is needed? It is even strongly advised against ... if you do not eat enough you will slim down less quickly than if you eat normally" was misleading and could be substantiated.
The ASA challenged whether:
9. the mailing was irresponsible, and encouraged weight loss at a rate which was incompatible with good medical and nutritional practice;
10. the mailing was irresponsible, because it implied that the product could treat obesity;
11. the mailing was misleading, because it implied that the product was guaranteed to work;
12. the claim "YOU WILL NOT PUT ON WEIGHT AGAIN!" was misleading and could be substantiated;
13. whether the testimonials were genuine; and
14. whether the before and after pictures were genuine.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
IntraMed Ltd (IntraMed) said the mailing was a test which had proved unsuccessful. They said they would not use it again.
1. - 14. Upheld
The ASA was concerned that IntraMed had not sent evidence to support the weight loss claims in the ad, or evidence that the product worked as claimed.
We were further concerned that the mailing encouraged weight loss at a rate that was incompatible with good medical and nutritional practice. We considered that, by showing "before" pictures of obese subjects without evidence that the regime was supervised by a suitably qualified medical practitioner, the mailing irresponsibly implied the product could treat obesity and was likely to exploit the vulnerable.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) 6.1 (Honesty) 7.1 (Truthfulness) 14.1, 14.3 and 14.4 (Testimonials) 50.1 (Health and Beauty Products and Therapies) and 51.1, 51.2, 51.4, 50.9, 51.10 (Weight control).
We noted IntraMed had been subject to two previous ASA adjudications and were concerned that they had not demonstrated that they held evidence to support their advertised claims. We told them to withdraw the mailing with immediate effect and to seek advice from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again. We asked CAP to inform its media members of the problem with IntraMed.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)