The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said 3.5 per cent (21) of the 599 ads for healthy and beauty products in national newspapers during this time breached the code.
But only a quarter of all the breaches recorded occurred because of substantive reasons, for example where the advertiser did not provide evidence backing up the claims. The rest were due to technical grounds, such as a design flaw in the advertisement or an omission in content.
"The prevailing message of the survey is a positive one, demonstrating the effectiveness of the self-regulatory system of advertising regulation in the UK. A compliance rate of 99.3 per cent in the national press is encouragingly high," said Roger Wisbey, director of advertising policy and practice.
A high compliance rate will be important under forthcoming European laws on health claims. The European Parliament voted last week to abandon the requirement for prior authorisation of claims, relying instead on a notification procedure.
Operators would notify EFSA of claims, including disease risk reduction claims, for new products entering the market. EFSA would inform the Commission which would have four months to ask EFSA for an opinion if it considered that the claim did not comply with the regulation.
Magazine advertisements in the UK continue to feature unsubstantiated claims however. Most recently Yakult was pulled up for an advertisement in a magazine claiming that its probiotic drink could help prevent upset stomachs in women during menstruation.
This week the ASA has also ruled against a misleading magazine ad for supplements containing cinnamon oil and other herbal extracts that were claimed to be anti-fungal and antiseptic.