Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)

CAP understands that Nutritional Therapists utilise a range of approaches, tailored to the individual, with the aim of promoting and optimising physical health. This may include, for example, diet and lifestyle modification, supplement recommendation and improving awareness of environmental factors which may impact on overall health and wellbeing.

Although it is likely to be acceptable to make claims along these lines, marketers of Nutritional Therapy should take care to ensure their advertising does not discourage essential treatment or refer to conditions for which medical supervision should be sought (rule 12.2). CAP understands that Nutritional Therapists are not currently considered suitably qualified health professionals for the purposes of rule 12.2.

CAP has produced a Help Note which sets out a non-exhaustive list of conditions for which medical supervision ought to be sought. The list includes anaemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility, gastric ulcers, metabolic diseases and obesity. The Help Note also includes a non-exhaustive list of conditions that may be referred to if the appropriate evidence is held.

Nutritional Therapists should not confuse consumers between their therapy and those of a “Dietician” or “Dietitian” registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. CAP understands that “dietician” and “dietitian” are protected terms.

Claims that Nutritional Therapy could assist those seeking to better manage their weight, for example, or devise a diet more suitable for an active or sporting lifestyle are likely to be acceptable.

Marketers of various products and complementary therapies have tried in the past to establish that the human body accumulates toxins that can be purged. CAP and the ASA understand the body’s liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials, including metabolic wastes. The ASA upheld a complaint against claims that Nutritional Therapy could remove toxins and increase cellular energy because the advertiser was unable to substantiate the claims (Optimum Health UK, 19 October 2011). To date, neither CAP nor the ASA have seen evidence that additional supplementation or a diet change over and above a healthy balanced diet can result in ‘detoxification’ with subsequent relief or prevention of illness. In light of this we would advise that Nutritional Therapists avoid making claims for detoxification, particularly in the removal of waste from the body's systems through the inclusion or exclusion of specific foods in the diet.

Nutritional Therapists should take care when advertising food supplements that they comply with the rules on health and nutrition claims made on food which are set out in Section 15 of the CAP Code. For example, ads for food supplements must not state or imply that a balanced or varied diet does not provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general. Individuals should not be encouraged to swap a healthy diet for supplementation, and without well-established proof, no marketing communication may suggest that a widespread vitamin or mineral deficiency exists (rule 15.8).

See Weight Control: Obesity; Food: General and Food Allergy Testing.

Guidance on Health Therapies and Evidence QA (Sept 2011)

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