ASA Ruling on Claire Hegarty
The Chester Clinic of Complementary Medicine
68 Heath Road
15 May 2013
Internet (on own site)
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
Numerous claims on www.clairehegarty.co.uk for guaranteed weight loss claims using different types of hypnotherapy and hypnosis.
The page "Hypnotic Gastric Band" was headlined "Claire Hegarty as seen on TV. 'Helping Clients cultivate confidence, motivation and happiness.' Results guaranteed." Further claims on the page stated "Hypno Gastric Band is the best way to lose weight safely with long lasting results. Claire Hegarty as seen on Television and always heard on the radio is a leading Hypno Gastric Band expert which is also known as Hypnotherapy Band and as such she offers all of her Hypno Gastric Band clients a full guarantee". Further text stated "Trance Band. Weight Management for Life. The Most Effective Way to Lasting Weight Loss. Please read on and learn more about Hypnosis Gastric Band and see why Claire Hegarty offers a Full Guarantee ...".
Under the heading "Is The Hypno Gastric Band For Me?" claims stated "... If you are overweight and would like to become thinner and have a healthier lifestyle then yes we can help you to fulfil your dreams by using Hypno Gastric Band. People have found out what most health professionals have known for years, diets do not work for most people. If you are one of these people who have tried lots of diets and have found that you are not losing the weight you want to lose and are also finding that as soon as you finish the diet you put the weight back on, then the Hypnotic Gastric Band is for you. Claire Hegarty who is a leading expert in helping people to lose weight will not only help you to lose weight through Hypnotic Gastric Band or as it is also known Hypno Gastric Band, she will offer you a guarantee that you will lose weight".
Under the heading "So What Happens At My Free Hypnotic Gastric Band Consultation?", claims stated "Does Claire Hegarty Guarantee The Hypnotic Gatric Band Technique? Claire Hegarty has an excellent reputation in the field of helping people to lose weight and she not only offers free advice over the phone on the Hypnosis Gastric Band but she also offer [sic] a full guarantee that you will lose weight. By using Hypnosis Gastric Band to fulfil your dreams of losing weight, by working with Claire Hegarty you will be guaranteed of long lasting results".
On the page "Weight loss hypnotherapy", the same headline appeared and included a logo which stated "Results Guaranteed". The page claimed "... As well as offering free advice she also offers a full guarantee that you will lose weight using her hypnotic techniques". Further claims on the page stated "... Losing weight when you have bad eating habits, low Will Power, Temptations, Low Confidence and a problem with food is not a great way to lose weight, but by working with Claire Hegarty who offers a Free Consultation as well as Free Advice over the phone and on a One to One basis as well as a Full Guarantee, all your problems will vanish and Weight Loss will become easy ...".
The page went on to claim "Weight Loss Hypnotherapy with Claire Hegarty Offers you Guaranteed Results. Weight Loss With Hypnotherapy is the secret to easy and permanent Weight Loss and by working with Claire Hegarty who is a leader in the Weight Loss with Hypnotherapy field; you are guaranteed happy and successful results".
The page for Trance Band® claims included the same logo and claims stated "The Most Effective Way To Long Lasting Weight Loss ... By using our hypnotism for weight loss technique called Trance Band® you will have your life changed and all your weight loss worries will be over. We are so confident that our hypnotism for weight loss technique will work for you; we offer you and all of our weight loss clients who use our Trance Band® technique a full guarantee ...”.
“There is a new revolutionary weight loss system in town called Trance Band® which was devised by the UK Leading Gastric Band Hypnotherapy expert Claire Hegarty as seen on television which gives you a guarantee that you will lose weight with the hypnotism to lose weight technique. Our hypnotism to lose weight technique offers a Guarantee to assist you in achieving your weight loss results. Our Gastric Band technique called Trance Band® is a guaranteed weight loss system that allows you to lose weight while eating what you want and when you want. Unlike other gastric band techniques that are out there which do not offer you a full guarantee that you will lose weight, with Trance Band® which was developed by the well known [sic] and UK Leading Gastric Band Hypnotherapy expert Claire Hegarty, all of our weight loss clients receive a full guarantee that they will become slimmer and lose the weight they want to lose ...".
The page went on to state "Well-known weight loss hypnotherapist Claire Hegarty has changed the way people lose weight with her guaranteed weight loss technique called Trance Band®. The celebrity hypnotherapist as seen on television and who also has her own health radio show has been featured a lot in the media. Claire has developed a unique guaranteed weight loss system called Trance Band®, which helps men and women to lose weight using a number of powerful techniques including gastric band hypnosis, virtual gastric band hypnosis and NLP". Further text on the same page stated "Our Hypnotism for Weight Loss Technique Offers You Guaranteed Weight Loss Results. Claire Hegarty who is a leader in the field of helping people to lose weight-using [sic] hypnotherapy developed Trance Band® to offer people who are worried about their weight a guaranteed weight loss tool. By using Trance Band® it will allow you to lose weight with all the benefits of a real gastric banding but without the cost and the complications".
The page "Gastric band hypnotherapy" included the same headline and logo and claims stated "We offer Guaranteed Results With Our Gastric Band Hypnosis Technique ... With our Hypnotherapy Band technique we can bring you guaranteed results where you will lose the weight you want to lose and best of all you will keep the weight off thanks to our Hypno Gastric Band technique ... Gastric Band Hypnosis with Claire Hegarty is the guaranteed way to lose weight and keep the weight off. We offer you a full Hypno Gastric Band guarantee to lose weight using our Tranceband® Hypno Gastric Band, which is a safer and cheaper alternative to the gastric band that is placed in your stomach through surgery ... Our Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Technique Offers Guaranteed Results ... UK Leading Gastric Hypnotherapy Band Expert as seen on television offers a full guarantee that you will lose weight using Gastric Hypnotherapy Band. Not only does Claire Hegarty offer you a full guarantee on losing weight using the Tranceband® Hypnotherapy Bands technique ... By using the virtual gastric band you are not only guaranteed to lose weight but you will also increase your confidence and increase your will power while at the same time addressing any issues you may have with food and compulsive eating ... We Guarantee Results With our Gastric Band Hypnosis Technique ... Gastric Band Hypnotherapy with Claire Hegarty is an effective way to safely and naturally lose weight with guaranteed results ... Claire Hegarty offers a full guarantee allowing you to lose weight in the safe knowledge that you are losing the weight in a safe and natural manner without any surgery by using her UK Gastric Band Hypnotherapy".
Further claims stated "Virtual Gastric Band Hypnotherapy Offers Real Guaranteed Results ... Most of all by using Gastric Band Hypnosis with Claire Hegarty you are guaranteed to lose weight ... As well as offering you a unique and guaranteed weight loss service we also offer you after care with our hypno gastric band technique where we offer you full support ... Will I be Offered A Full Guarantee If I Decide To Have Hypnosis Gastric Band To Lose Weight? Yes! Claire Hegarty offers all of her clients a full guarantee. You are in the safe knowledge that you are seeing a professional when deciding to have Hypnotherapy Gastric Band to lose weight and a professional who offers you a full guarantee".
The page for "Help with weight loss using hypnosis to lose weight" included the same headline and logo and claims stated "By Using Hypnosis To Lose Weight We Can Give You A Real Weight Loss Solution With Guaranteed Results. With being a leader in the Hypnosis to lose weight field, Claire Hegarty has people coming to visit her not only from all over the UK but she also has clients who want help with weight loss that travel from Europe to receive real guaranteed results ... We offer Guaranteed Results With Our Hypnosis to Lose Weight Technique ... if you are serious about getting help with weight loss you should look at hypnosis to lose weight technique such as our very own Trance Band which is a guaranteed weight loss technique ... We Guarantee Results With our Hypnosis To Lose Weight Technique ... Hypnosis To Lose Weight Offers Guaranteed Results With Claire Hegarty ... If you are serious about wanting help to lose weight then we can offer you a guaranteed weight loss technique using hypnosis to lose weight. By using hypnosis to lose weight you can rest assured that by working with Claire Hegarty who is a leader in the hypnosis to lose weight field that you will achieve the results that you want to achieve and we are not just saying that, we guarantee it ... We are so confident in our Hypnosis to lose weight technique that we offer you a full guarantee that you will lose weight".
The complainant challenged whether the claims of guaranteed weight loss were misleading and could be substantiated.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Ms Hegarty provided in-depth information which she believed would confirm how her guaranteed programmes worked. She explained the guarantee was on the programme and that she guaranteed to assist clients in achieving and maintaining their results. She did not hold any evidence in the form of clinical trials, which she understood was the standard of evidence accepted by the ASA. She noted it was impossible for her to conduct and evaluate clinical trials in the time she was expected to respond to us, especially since her programmes ran over a period of many months, involving many different techniques which were unique to her. She held numerous testimonials from clients she had helped over the last 10 years and from those clients she continued to help. She believed testimonials were the best form of evidence and she disagreed with the view that they were unacceptable as evidence. She believed that without being able to provide those testimonials as evidence, the complaint had not been fairly considered.
Ms Hegarty explained that the guaranteed weight loss claims had appeared in error owing to an oversight which meant that an old, out-of-date back up had been used on her website. She had previously removed those claims following advice from the ASA in relation to an earlier complaint. Once contacted again, she promptly removed the guaranteed weight loss claims.
Ms Hegarty said the guarantee she offered to her clients meant she would help them for as long as they wanted in achieving the results they wanted, and that she would also work with them so they were able to maintain those changes and results for life. She was committed to continue working with her clients, by offering them as much time as they needed, to help and support them achieve their results.
In order for the programmes to be successful, Ms Hegarty required her clients to agree and commit to meeting certain requirements; she would only work with clients who agreed to fulfil those obligations. Her programmes combined a number of techniques which looked at many different areas affecting weight loss and because of that, each programme was tailored to a client's individual needs. She added that the psychology behind issues affecting weight loss were often very complex and took time to understand and therefore, programmes could run for 12 months or longer.
Ms Hegarty said the guarantee related to the programmes she offered and that provided the clients also met her requirements in following the programme, she guaranteed to able to assist and support all of them in achieving their desired weight loss results.
The ASA noted the repeated guaranteed weight loss claims had appeared in error and we welcomed that Ms Hegarty had acted promptly in removing them after we had contacted her. However, we understood they had been appearing in error for some time.
The Code required advertisers to hold evidence to substantiate their claims before publishing their claims. We therefore expected Ms Hegarty to have already carried out clinical trials using her techniques or at least to have held copies of studies which assessed the efficacy of each technique she used. Because of the nature of the claims she had made, that evidence needed to be in the form of appropriately blinded and controlled clinical trials. Although Ms Hegarty held testimonials, Code rule 13.1 (Weight control and slimming) stated that testimonials about weight loss regimes that were not supported by clinical trials did not constitute substantiation. We understood from Ms Hegarty that she had no additional evidence which may have supported a client's experience as set out in their testimonial, and we therefore did not ask her to send those testimonials to us for assessment.
We noted her explanation on how the programmes were devised and to what her guarantee related. However, we considered claims which stated or implied that Ms Hegarty guaranteed that all of her clients would lose weight were likely to be seen as efficacy claims. We therefore expected to see evidence which demonstrated that the techniques she used always resulted in weight loss.
We noted Ms Hegarty's response and that she held testimonials, but considered that was insufficient to demonstrate how following her programmes and how each of the different hypnotherapy techniques referred to on the website guaranteed her clients lost weight. We therefore concluded the claims had not been substantiated and were misleading.
The claims breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 13.1, 13.4 and 13.8 (Weight control and slimming).
The claims must not appear again. We told Ms Hegarty not to make claims of guaranteed weight loss unless she held sufficiently robust evidence to substantiate them.