ASA rules against constipation supplement adverts

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Irritable bowel syndrome, Dietary fiber

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against press adverts promoting the bowel health potential of probiotic and fibre-containing food supplements due to a lack of scientific backing.

The ASA ruled that the claim that Lepicol could, “make it easier to keep your bowels healthy" ​was not backed by trials using the specific formulation of the product and therefore told the Healthy Bowels Company the advert must not appear again.

The supplement contained psyllium husks, inulin and five probiotic strains. The Healthy Bowels Company submitted to the ASA trial summaries utilising these ingredients with people with irritable bowel syndrome.

The Healthy Bowels Company noted a synergy between the three ingredients as had been highlighted by two of the submitted studies.

It also noted a government campaign to increase fibre consumption, which Lepicol could contribute to.

But the ASA ruled the ad gave the impression Lepicol could help bowel health, “rather than increased fibre intake per se.”

“We therefore expected to see product-specific evidence to support the claim,”​ the ASA wrote.

“We noted the study summaries sent by HB on the individual ingredients in Lepicol, their interaction with one another, and their effect on bowel health, but understood that the studies were conducted on those with existing digestive illnesses, such as IBS, and not healthy adults. We noted that we had not seen evidence to demonstrate that the specific composition of Lepicol could improve or maintain bowel health and therefore concluded the claim "Lepicol ... can make it easier to keep your bowels healthy" had not been substantiated and was likely to mislead.”

However complaints against the advert’s implication that fibre and ​probiotics​were required for better bowel health and that Lepicol was efficacious because it was natural were not upheld by the ASA.

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