A page on the website for Liquid Lipo, www.liquidlipointernational.com, an online retailer of fat reduction and skincare products, seen on 1 February 2022, promoted a product called “Liquid Lipo Fat Dissolve Gel”. The page included the claims “Enters the skin using Grade A essential oil carrying agents”, “Binds to fat cells, shrinking them and dissolving the fat”, “Proven to work in 3000 clinical trials 95% of people lost fat”, and “The fat is broken down into Carbon Dioxide and water, it [sic] excreted from the body”.
The paragraphs underneath featured claims concerning the scientific research that went into the product’s development and stated that a peer-reviewed, double-blind study concluded that the gel had assisted fat loss in more than 95% of the participants who received it. The page also featured four ‘before and after’ images comparing two cropped close-up shots of a model’s abdomen side-by-side, with the models appearing skinnier on the right than they did on the left.
Clicking on a button labelled “PURCHASE” near the top of the page brought up a product listing page which featured a slideshow reel of five images. The fourth image displayed two shots of a model’s back in its top-right and bottom-left corners along with the text “1 BOTTLE 5 DAYS X2 HOURS = TEN INCHES OF FAT FROM THE SKIN REMOVED” and “RESEARCH EVIDENCE RESULTS”. The model appeared to have less back fat in the bottom-left than she did in the top-right shot. The reel featured four further ‘before and after’ comparisons of a model’s abdomen, arm and thigh.
IssueIslington Trading Standards Service challenged whether the claims that the product assisted with the reduction of body fat and was “clinically proven” were misleading and could be substantiated.
ResponseLiquid Lipo Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Liquid Lipo Ltd’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The ad included claims relating to the product’s action on the body and fat removal efficacy including “Binds to fat cells, shrinking them and dissolving the fat”. It also detailed the product’s scientific development and claimed that the gel had been “Proven to work in 3000 clinical trials”, referring specifically to the findings of double-blind, peer-reviewed research. We considered those aspects of the ad gave consumers the impression that the product could aid the reduction of body fat, and that its efficacy was supported by robust scientific evidence. We further considered that the various ‘before and after’ images would be interpreted as objective visual claims of previous customers’ results, and that their inclusion reinforced the ad’s overall impression that the product’s efficacy was well established.
However, Liquid Lipo did not provide any of the clinical trials referred to in the ad, or any other evidence to support their product’s efficacy. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 13.1 13.1 A weight-reduction regime in which the intake of energy is lower than its output is the most common self-treatment for achieving weight reduction. Any claim made for the effectiveness or action of a weight-reduction method or product must be backed, if applicable, by rigorous trials on people; testimonials that are not supported by trials do not constitute substantiation. (Weight control and slimming).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Liquid Lipo Ltd to ensure that they did not state or imply that their product could reduce body fat unless they held robust clinical evidence to substantiate their claims. We also told them not to claim their product was “clinically proven” or make any other claim about their product’s efficacy being supported by clinical trials, unless they could provide adequate evidence, including full copies of relevant scientific papers, to demonstrate that was the case. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.