Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
Two paid-for Facebook posts for diet supplement retailer Slimjoy, seen in May 2022:
a. The first stated, “Belly fat doesn’t stand a chance with this product! AdipoSlim effectively melts belly fat!”. A video embedded in the post depicted a woman taking the AdipoSlim supplement, with superimposed text that stated, “FAT MELTING CAPSULES! GET RID OF 50% OF BELLY FAT. REDUCE WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE BY UP TO 7.5CM. DECREASE HIP SIZE BY UP TO 6CM”.
b. The second featured an image of a woman holding a bottle labelled “FatCut” with superimposed text that stated, “just 2 capsules per day … ‘Seeing real results is what it’s all about for me … That’s why I use FatCut!’”. A caption accompanying the image stated, “‘FatCut changed my life’ Ana … [Ultra-POWERFUL fat burner] … The STRONGEST fat burner on the market!! … If not today, when …”.
The ASA challenged whether:
1. the ads, which showed slim, young women taking weight loss supplements, were irresponsible;
2. ad (a) made reference to an amount or rate of weight loss, which was prohibited by the Code; and
3. the specific health claims in the ads complied with the Code.
ResponseSensilab d.o.o. t/a Slimjoy confirmed that they had removed the ads from circulation.
We welcomed Slimjoy’s assurance that the ads had been removed from Facebook. The CAP Code required marketing communications to be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. We considered that particular care should be exercised when preparing advertising for weight loss supplements, since people, particularly young women, were potentially already body conscious because of pre-existing societal pressures (regardless of their actual weight or size, and including those who were of a healthy weight).
Both ads featured young female models who appeared to be slim. Ad (a) featured a video of a model taking the advertised supplement with claims about the amount of weight loss that could be achieved by using the product. The post also featured a caption that stated, “Belly fat doesn’t stand a chance …!” and “effectively melts body fat!”. Ad (b) featured the caption “Ultra-POWERFUL fat burner” and “STRONGEST fat burner on the market!”. We considered those claims and images implied that using the supplements shown could lead to significant weight loss; consumers, therefore, could use the product for the same purpose. Similarly, the use of slim models in the ads, alongside the claims, implied that the supplement could be used by people who were not overweight to lose further body fat.
We considered that the ads’ message which encouraged people who were not overweight – particularly young women – to use the weight loss supplements in order to reduce their size further, could have the effect of exploiting insecurities around body image, and were therefore irresponsible and breached the Code.
On that point, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility).
The CAP Code stated that health claims that referred to a rate or amount of weight loss were not acceptable when made in relation to a supplement. We considered that consumers would understand from the claims: “GET RID OF 50% OF BELLY FAT”; “REDUCE WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE BY UP TO 7.5CM”; and “DECREASE HIP SIZE BY UP TO 6CM” in ad (a), to mean that by using the AdipoSlim product shown, consumers could lose 50% of the fat from their stomach, reduce their the circumference of their waist by 7.5 cm, and decrease the size of their hips by up to 6 cm.
We considered those claims referred to an amount of weight loss in relation to a supplement and therefore breached the Code.
On that point, ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 15.6 15.6 These are not acceptable in marketing communications for products within the remit of this section: and 15.6.6 15.6.6 Health claims that refer to a rate or amount of weight loss. (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims).
The CAP Code required that only health claims authorised on the Great Britain nutrition and health claims (NHC) register (the GB NHC Register) were permitted in marketing communications for foods. The CAP Code defined health claims as those that stated, suggested or implied a relationship between a food, drink or ingredient and health.
The ASA considered the claims “Slimjoy”, “Adiposlim”, “melts belly fat” and “FAT MELTING” in ad (a), and “Slimjoy”, “FatCut” and “fat burner” in ad (b) to be specific health claims for the purposes of the Code. However, we had not seen any evidence which demonstrated that those claims were authorised on the GB NHC Register, or that the product met the conditions of use associated with any authorised claims.
We welcomed Slimjoy’s assurance that the ads were no longer in circulation. However, because at the time the ads were seen they made specific health claims that were not authorised on the GB NHC Register, we concluded that they had breached the Code.
On that point, ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims must be supported by documentary evidence to show they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim, as specified in the applicable register. Claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
Only nutrition claims listed in the applicable register may be used in marketing communications.
Only health claims listed as authorised in the applicable register, or claims that would have the same meaning to the consumer, may be used in marketing communications. (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims), and 15.7 15.7 Nutrition and health claims for food supplements must be permitted or authorised as provided for at rule 15.1.1 above. Marketing communications that contain nutrition or health claims must be supported by documentary evidence to show they meet the conditions of use associated with the relevant claim as specified in the applicable register. (Food supplements and other vitamins and minerals).
The ads must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Sensilab d.o.o. t/a Slimjoy to ensure their future marketing communications were prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. We also told them to ensure that when advertising supplements they did not refer to a rate or amount of weight loss, and that any specific health claims made in their future advertising were authorised on the GB NHC Register and met the associated conditions of use.