Last week an SA company was banned from using the name "Supreme Slim" for one of its products, after a Cape Town consumer activist complained there was no evidence that it had any slimming effect.
According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the company Wellness Forever CC was "unable to provide proper substantiation for its marketing claims that Supreme Slim was an appetite suppressant, that it accelerated metabolism, was a 'fat burner' and that users could get 'results' without exercise".
It also rejected the company's claim that there were "no chemicals" present in the concoction. ASA said that, when challenged, Wellness Forever denied that the name "Supreme Slim" in any way implied weight loss.
However, "the only reasonable inference that could be drawn from the name 'Supreme Slim' was that the product would result in the user becoming slimmer, or losing weight", ASA countered.
Well, well! A slimming product without any slimming effects - what a revelation! And a product name that "does not imply weight loss" – how funny!
When I first read the news report, I had a really good giggle. However, soon afterwards I started to feel rather depressed as I thought about all the other slimming products out there - all with similarly optimistic names - that still promise the world, only to leave you with an empty pocket.
After the Simply Slim scare earlier this year, consumers have become acutely aware of the dangers of sibutramine. And, subsequently slimming companies have gone to great pains to assure dieters that their products are free of this substance and 100% safe. Most of these products are advertised as 100% natural without any harmful side-effects.
However, a very important message that has not hit home with consumers yet, is that "100% natural/with plant-based ingredients" does not necessarily mean safe. In fact, alarm bells should go off, as soon as you read that line. A number of these so-called natural ingredients have very harmful side-effects, some very similar to sibutramine. DietDoc has already reported extensively on this.
The long list of ingredients for Supreme Slim, for example, includes Citrus Aurantium, also known as Bitter Orange Extract. This is an ingredient found in many of the "natural" slimming products. On the Supreme Slim website Citrus Aurantium is described as "little orange fruits" containing synephrine, with powerful fat-burning activity, and no negative side-effects on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system".
Again, alarm bells should go off! Why do they feel the need to mention that it won't have any negative side-effects on the central nervous system and cardiovascular system? Are they already defending their product?
The truth is that the synephrine in Citrus Aurantium is a compound similar to epinephrine, an appetite suppressant which has a very long list of serious side-effects: nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, high blood pressure, rapid and irregular heartbeat, chest pain, palpitations, and even heart arrest, fear, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, tremor, headache, psychotic states and most serious of all, addiction.
So, yes, these cute "little orange fruits" are very bad news indeed. And this is only ONE of the listed ingredients. What about the rest?
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that there really is no quick fix for weight loss. The only way to effectively lose weight is to exercise more and eat less. Forget about those "miracle diet potions" on the market – it's simply not worth your money, and especially not your health!
(Birgit Ottermann, Health24, Nutrition Newsletter, May 2010)