Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
Posts for BoomBod Ltd’s weight loss products, appeared on the Instagram accounts of Boombod, as well as for Lauren Goodger and Katie Price:
a. The BoomBod Instagram account, seen in March 2019, included the text at the top of the page, “BOOMBOD WEIGHT LOSS IN A WEEK Clinically Proven Stop Cravings No Laxatives Tasty 10 Calorie Shots”. The ad also contained a roundel which included an image of a woman’s waist with two arrows pointing in towards that waist accompanied by the text “Results”.
b. A post on BoomBod’s Instagram account, on February 23 2019, included an image of a drink alongside the text “BANISH NAUGHTY CRAVINGS WITH 10 CALORIES”. The post also included an image of packaging that featured the text “BOOMBOD WEIGHT LOSS SHOT DRINK SENSATION 7 DAY ACHIEVER”. Text next to the image stated “BANISH NAUGHTY CRAVING in a TASTY 10 cal shot Join the hundreds of thousands of people LOVING their BOOMBOD now!”.
c. A post on BoomBod’s Instagram account, on December 19 2018, included an image of three packets. Text next to the image stated “WEIGHT LOSS as easy as 1. 2. 3. #BOOMBOD”.
d. A post on BoomBod’s Instagram account, on March 2019, included a before and after image of the DJ Melissa Reeves holding a box containing the text “BOOMBOD WEIGHT LOSS SHOT DRINK SENSATION 7 DAY ACHEIVER”. Text next to image stated, “”Just finished my BOOMBOD program and I like what I’m seeing! I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I started this program, but I’m definitely please with how it went. I feel more fit & toned, and a lot more confident too!” @djmelreeves SMASHED her #7DAYCHALLENGE! Are you ready to start yours”.
e. A post on BoomBod’s Instagram account, on March 11 2019, included a before and after image and the testimonial “Today vs 2 Weeks ago. This is AMAZING….. thank you for FINALLY coming up with a product that ACTUALLY works”.
f. A post on Lauren Goodger’s Instagram account, on March 28 2019, included an image of Lauren Goodger standing by a fireplace in athletic cloths holding BoomBod packaging with the text “BOOMBOD WEIGHT LOSS SHOT DRINK SESNATION 7 DAY ACHIEVER”. Text next to the post stated “Can’t believe these amazing results I’ve gotten with @boombod’s 7 Day Achiever. It works so well to decrease bloating and get rid of those late night cravings. This difference I’ve noticed from using this stuff is amazing”.
g. A post on Katie Price’s Instagram account, on 10 April 2019, included a before and after image of Katie Price. The after image also featured BoomBod packaging. Text next to the image included “Getting loads of questions about the @boombod program and how I like it, and it’s no secret. I can’t get enough of it! Quick & Easy weight loss is great, but doing it in a healthy way is key. These shots have a bunch of vitamins, use a clinically proved natural fibre, contain zero laxatives and most importantly… they give results EVERY time!”.
Four complainants challenged whether:
1. ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) made health claims that were authorised by the EU Register.
2. ads (a), (b), (d), (e), (f) and (g) referred to a rate or amount of weight loss, which was prohibited by the Code; and
3. ads (d), (f) and (g) promoted a dieting product in an irresponsible manner.
BoomBod Ltd responded that they would remove ads (a), (b), (c) and (d), remove the time-frame mentioned in ad (e) and liaise with the influencers in ads (f) and (g) to rectify the issue. Lauren Goodger responded that the text in ad (f) did not state that she had lost weight because of the product, but that it helped with bloating and hunger. She said that her post did not advise using the product for a long period of time and stated that it was a 7-day product. She understood glucomannan could reduce bloating and appetite. Katie Price responded that the caption in ad (g) communicated her thoughts on the product.
According to Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation), which was reflected in the CAP Code, only health claims listed as authorised on the EU Register were permitted in marketing communications for foods, including food supplements. Health claims were defined as those which stated, suggested or implied a relationship between a food, or ingredient, and health. Marketers could exercise some flexibility in rewording authorised claims, provided that the reworded claim was likely to have the same meaning for consumers as the authorised health claim, and the aim of the rewording was to aid consumer understanding, taking into account factors such as linguistic or cultural variations and the target population. Health claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
We considered the claim “Weight Loss” in all the ads, and “Stop Cravings” and “BANISH NAUGHTY CRAVING [sic]” in ads (a) and (b), were specific health claims for the purposes of the Code. We further considered that the reference to “SENSATION” in the claim “WEIGHT LOSS SHOT DRINK SENSATION”, which was also visible on-pack in ads (b) and (f), would be interpreted to mean that the product was able to help consumers achieve weight loss in a unique, or particularly effective, way.
We understood that Boombod’s ingredient’s list included glucomannan, for which there was an authorised health claim on the EU Register: “Glucomannan in the context of an energy restricted diet contributes to weight loss”. The claim could be used for products which contained at least 1g of glucomannan per quantified portion, and so long as other additional information, as detailed in the conditions of use for the claim on the EU Register, was provided. The claim could also only be used for food which contained 1g of glucomannan per quantified portion, but we had not received any documentary evidence in relation to the amount of glucomannan per portion. We assessed whether the claims in the ads were appropriate rewordings of the authorised health claim for glucomannan. Although all the ads made reference to “weight loss”, they did not clearly state that glucomannan contributed to weight loss only in the context of an energy restricted diet, nor did they include the additional information required by the conditions of use for the authorised claim. The authorised health claim also did not refer to the cessation of cravings or suggest that there was something unique or particularly effective about the weight loss effects of the substance. Additionally, health claims could only be made for the nutrient, substance, food or food category for which they had been authorised, but none of the ads made clear that the health benefit related to glucomannan.
For those reasons we considered the claims in the ads did not accurately reflect, and exaggerated the wording, of the authorised health claim for glucomannan. We therefore concluded that the health claims were in breach of the Code.
Ad (b) also included the claim “I feel more fit and toned” which we considered implied that the product had a general, non-specific benefit for overall good health. We considered that, in the context of the ad, the claim was a general health claim. The Code stated that general health claims could be made in relation to a food only if they were accompanied by a relevant specific, authorised health claim. Ad (b) did not contain any specific authorised health claims. We therefore concluded that the general health claims were also in breach of the Code.
On that point ads (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 15.1,15.1.1 and 15.2 (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims).
The CAP Code prohibited health claims for foods that referred to a rate or amount of weight loss. We considered that the claim in ad (a), “WEIGHT LOSS IN A WEEK”, referred to a rate of weight loss because it implied that consumers would lose some weight in a week. We also considered that in the context of the “weight loss” claims in each ad, the claims in ads (b), (d), (f) that referred to “7 DAY ACHIEVER” and “#7DAYCHALLENGE” and the claim in ad (e), “Today vs 2 Weeks ago”, were also claims that referred to a rate of weight loss.
We further considered that because the images in ads (d), (e), (g) were formatted as two side-by-side photos of the same woman, those images would be interpreted as ‘before and after’ photos showing the weight loss effects of the product. We considered that those photos, combined with the claims “7 DAY ACHIEVER” (which was visible on-pack in ads (d), (f) and (g) and “Today vs 2 Weeks ago” constituted health claims that referred to a rate and amount of weight loss. Because we considered that ads (a), (b), (d), (e), (f) and (g) included health claims for foods which referred to a rate or amount of weight loss, we concluded that they were in breach of the Code.
On that point, ads (a), (b), (d), (e), (f), and (g) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 15.6.6 (Food, food supplements and associated health and nutrition claims).
We considered that ads (d), (f), and (g) promoted the body images and lifestyles of the influencers chosen to advertise the product as desirable and aspirational. We further considered that it was clear from the ads that the influencers did not need to lose weight in order to achieve a healthy weight. We noted that the influencers in ad (d), and (g), were particularly slim in both the before and after images and, combined with the “7 Day” claims we were concerned that the overall message of the ads were that they had used the product to lose a noticeable amount of weight over a very short period of time. In particular, ad (g) stated that the results were “quick”. Because the ads presented both influencers as aspirational figures, we were concerned that this created the impression that it was necessary or advisable for those who were already slim to use products that suppressed their appetite to quickly lose weight, which we considered was an irresponsible message in an ad for an appetite suppressant.
Ad (d) also stated that the product helped the influencer feel “more confident too”, which created the impression that those who were already slim could use products that suppressed their appetite to improve their confidence, which we considered was an irresponsible message.
We were also concerned that the photo of Lauren Goodger in ad (f) appeared to have been edited to make her waist look artificially thin with the result that the images were not representative of her real body shape. We considered that was particularly irresponsible in the context of an ad for an appetite suppressant that presented her as an aspirational figure.
For those reasons we concluded that ads (d), (f) and (g) all promoted a dieting product in an irresponsible manner. On that point, ads (d), (f) and (g) breached CAP Code (Edition12) rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The ads must not appear again in the same form. We told Boombod Ltd not to make references to general benefits of food for overall good health or health-related well-being unless those claims were accompanied by a relevant authorised health claim, and that any specific health claims in the ads were authorised on the EU Register, and appropriately worded. We also told them not to make claims about their products that referred to a rate or amount of weight loss. We also told them not to promote a diet product in an irresponsible way.