ASA upholds weight loss complaint

2014-02-27 16:10
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Johannesburg - The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint over a weight loss product that claims to have been recommended by doctors.

The respondent, Rapid Diet Solutions, was ordered to withdraw its claims and advertisement with immediate effect.

Doctor Rudi de Lange lodged a complaint against an internet and print advertisement for Garciniaslim.

The advertisements were published on Garciniaslim’s website and in the Sunday Times.

It has a photo of a slim woman's torso and the words: "The newest fastest fat buster is Garcinia Cambogia extract - No diet, no exercise, fat buster, blocks fat formation, eliminates belly fat."

It says the product is "recommended by doctors".

De Lange submitted there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the product was effective in resulting in permanent weight loss over a long period.

He said a fair amount of research had been done on the ingredient Garcinia Cambogia, with the latest results indicating that "there is still little evidence to support the potential effectiveness".

ASA’s ruling

The ASA said all reasonable steps were taken to get a response from the advertiser but none was received.

"A representative of the respondent, Mr Nick Bowman, confirmed receipt via e-mail and requested additional time to reply, which was granted. No reply was received, however," the authority said in its ruling.

"The ASA directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the complainant. In the absence of a response from the advertiser the directorate had no alternative but to rule based on the information before it."

The authority upheld a portion of the claim. It said that a section of the advertising code required that advertisers substantiate any direct or implied claims in their advertisements.

The directorate was of the opinion that the product's efficacy with regard to weight loss, fat loss and appetite suppression could have been substantiated.

"Based on the above, the advertising and relevant claims relating to efficacy... are unsubstantiated and in contravention of... the code," it said.

The ASA said the complainant had correctly pointed out that part of its code required advertisers to give due prominence to the role of diet and exercise in weight loss.

The ASA found the advert "expressly discourages" dieting and exercise and contravened its code.

The authority sanctioned Rapid Diet Solutions to not use the advert again unless adequate substantiation had been submitted and accepted.

- SAPA
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