Companies promoting their weight loss products and regimes have
a year round target audience - whether consumers are preparing for
a sunny holiday or a special occasion, or generally wanting to keep
healthy and trim.
The UK codes of practice on advertising laid down by the
Committee of Advertising Practice
("CAP") and regulated by the Advertising
Standards Authority (the "ASA") already
contain specific provisions on weight control and slimming.
However, following a number of adverse adjudications by the ASA
upholding complaints against companies exaggerating the benefits of
the products, CAP has issued some guidance to help advertisers
promote their products and regimes in a truthful and decent
Their tips include the following:
Claims about the effects of your
product or regime must be supported by robust evidence. This
includes claims in product names and testimonials.
Avoid claims which exaggerate weight
loss i.e. don't make claims that state how much weight can be
lost; that exact amounts of weight can be lost during a stated
period; that weight can be lost from certain parts of the body or
that weight loss will be permanent.
Claims should not be made
irresponsible and unhealthy amounts of weight or fat loss. A rate
greater than 2 lbs a week for those overweight but not obese is
likely to be incompatible with medical and nutritional advice and
You should only mention obesity or
imply that they treat obesity if you can offer a multi-element
lifestyle weight management programme that is compliant with the
existing rule relating to such programmes in the non-broadcast CAP
Make sure that any use of before and
after images don't exaggerate expected weight loss or
indirectly imply irresponsible amounts or rates of loss.
Don't make claims that your
product or regime can lessen the appearance of or treat cellulite
or that they can improve the look of the skin covering the affected
area. Treatment of cellulite would need to be supported by robust
Don't imply that
"detoxing" products (such as wraps, patches or devices)
can assist with weight or fat loss by flushing away toxins.
Don't claim that the accumulation
of toxins can result in adverse medical conditions or that your
products and regimes can prevent them.
Don't make claims that clothing
can aid or have any permanent effect on weight or fat loss. Any
marketing of such tight-fitting or figure enhancing clothing should
focus only on the temporary appearance of weight loss and the
short-term effect of a smaller girth.
Don't use claims, or images that
could cause offence.
This guidance from CAP acts as a clear reminder that weight loss
is a sensitive issue and it is important to remain honest,
responsible and genuine with consumers. Falling foul of the rules
can attract ASA action and negative publicity for your product and
brand. We regularly advise clients on claims in their ad copy on
this subject matter and other related matters including health,
medicinal and comparative claims. So, if you would like any further
advice within this area please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please note that the CAP advice does not cover food or food
supplements which are covered by separate rules.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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