Summary of council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Posts on the Instagram pages of Team v24 and Georgia Harrison, a TV personality, seen on 13 March 2019, promoted V24's 'weight loss gummies'.
a. A post on Team v24’s Instagram page stated, "#v24gummies help keep hunger and cravings at bay through the natural plant extract glucomannan ... #weightloss #fatloss #weightlossnourney [sic] … #healthylifestyle #fitness #fitnessmodel ... #loveisland … #beachbody ... #lean".
b. A post on Georgia Harrison's Instagram page stated "Paid partnership with v24team ... V24 Gummies are great at helping you loose [sic] weight ... V24 Gummies made dieting so much easier. They're delicious and when taken with water they suppress your hunger cravings. Which is critical to stay on diet ... They Contain [sic] glucomannan which is clinically proven to help with weight loss. You have to try them. You can get them on @V24Team website and if you use code: loveisland you will get 30% off ... #diet ...".
The complainant challenged whether the ads:
1. which were subject to Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on food (the Regulation), as reflected in the CAP Code, breached the Code; and
2. promoted a diet product in an irresponsible way.
1. Protein Revolution Ltd said the main ingredient of V24 Weight Loss Gummies was glucomannan. They noted that the claim “Glucomannan in the context of an energy restricted diet contributes to weight loss” was an authorised claim on the EU Register, and could be used only for food which contained 1 g of glucomannan per quantified portion. In order to bear the claim information should be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect was obtained with a daily intake of 3 g of glucomannan in three doses of 1 g each, together with 1-2 glasses of water, before meals and in the context of an energy-restricted diet.
They said there were a number of case studies that demonstrated how effective glucomannan was for aiding weight loss, and linked to an article which discussed whether it was an effective weight loss supplement. Protein Revolution said the statement "#v24gummies help keep hunger cravings at bay through the natural plant extract glucomannan" was factually correct. If users followed the recommended dose then hunger cravings would be reduced.
2. Protein Revolution said ad (a) was visible to people who had chosen to follow their company on Instagram. They said ad (b) was a review from someone who had been using the product for 16 months, and they believed nothing was more responsible than a review from someone who had used the product for a long period of time. However, the post had since been removed. All Star Entertainment, on behalf of Georgia Harrison, acknowledged the complaint, but did not provide a substantive response.
Instagram said they had investigated and ad (b) was no longer available in the UK.
Ads for foods were subject to specific rules in the CAP Code, which reflected the requirements of Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the Regulation). The CAP Code stated that only health claims which appeared on the list of authorised claims (the EU Register), or claims that would have the same meaning to consumers, could be made in ads promoting foods.
The ASA considered that the following claims in ad (a) suggested the food had a specific beneficial effect on health, and were therefore health claims for the purposes of the Regulation: “v24gummies help keep hunger and cravings at bay through the natural plant extract glucomannan”; “#weightloss”; “#fatloss”; and “#weightlossnourney” [sic]. We considered the health claims in ad (b) were: “V24 Gummies are great at helping you loose [sic] weight”; “V24 Gummies made dieting so much easier. They're delicious and when taken with water they suppress your hunger cravings. Which is critical to stay on diet”; and “They Contain [sic] glucomannan which is clinically proven to help with weight loss”. We understood that none of those claims were authorised on the EU Register.
We noted that the claim “Glucomannan in the context of an energy restricted diet contributes to weight loss” was an authorised claim on the EU Register, though that claim had not appeared in either ad. We considered that the health claims in the ad did not communicate the same information as the authorised health claim. For example, ad (b) referred to the ingredient being ‘clinically proven’ to help with weight loss, which did not appear in the authorised claim. The authorised claim did, however, include an explanation that glucomannan contributed to weight loss ‘in the context of an energy restricted diet’, whereas the claims in the ads did not. The authorised claim also did not refer to suppressing hunger cravings, which both ads did.
In addition, the claim was required to be made in relation to the relevant nutrient or food for which it had been authorised, rather than for the product as a whole, whereas some claims in the ads related to the product. In order to bear the authorised claim, specific information was required to be given to consumers about the daily intake and dose of glucomannan, as well as a warning of choking, to be given for people with swallowing difficulties or when ingesting with inadequate fluid intake. We noted that no such information was given in either ad.
The claim could also only be used for food which contained 1g of glucomannan per quantified portion, but we had not received any evidence in relation to the amount of glucomannan per portion. We therefore concluded that the health claims were in breach of the Code.
Both ads also included claims which we considered implied that the product had a general, non-specific benefit for overall good health, namely: “#healthylifestyle”, “#fitness”, “#fitnessmodel”, “#beachbody” and “#lean” in ad (a) and “#diet” in ad (b). We considered that, in the context of the ads, they were general health claims. 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. As referred to above, neither ad included any specific authorised health claims.
We therefore concluded that the general health claims were also in breach of the Code. On that point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 15.1, 15.1.1, and 15.2 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutritional claims).
We noted that ad (a) included a number of hashtags, including #fitnessmodel and #beachbody as well as #loveisland. Ad (b) also included a reference to Love Island and the hashtag #diet. We considered that there was a suggestion of the product being used as part of a fitness or dieting regime and that the ads promoted Georgia Harrison’s body image and lifestyle as desirable and aspirational. We noted that ad (a) stated “v24gummies help keep hunger and cravings at bay”, and ad (b) stated that the product “made dieting so much easier”. Ad (a) included the hashtags #weightloss, #fatloss, and referred to weight- and fat- loss journeys. Ad (b) stated that the product suppressed hunger cravings, which was “critical to stay on diet”.
We considered that consumers would take from the ads that Georgia Harrison had taken the products over a long period of time in order to maintain her slim figure. It was clear from the ads that Georgia Harrison did not need to lose weight in order to achieve a healthy weight. We considered that the overall message of the ads was that she nevertheless used the product on an ongoing basis to help her limit her calorie intake. We were concerned that this created the impression that it was necessary or advisable for those who aspired to her body shape and lifestyle to use products that suppressed their appetite. We were also concerned that the photos of Georgia Harrison in both ads 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 the ads promoted a diet product in an irresponsible way and breached the Code. On that point, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 (Social responsibility).
The ads must not appear again in the same form. We told Protein Revolution 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 promote a diet product in an irresponsible way.