The ASA ruling upheld seven complaints against Advanced Health Ltd regarding a medical fat-binding product Proactol XS and claims on four pages of www.proactolxs.com.
A complaint by Omega Pharma UK Ltd challenged whether seven claims made with regard to Proactol XS were misleading and could be substantiated. The complaints related to:
- A claim to have "unbeatable fat-binding capacity” in an online advert.
- A claim to be "33% more efficient than the other fat binders” in an online advert.
- Claiming to "lose weight and lower your cholesterol at the same time" in an advert
- Weight loss ‘examples’ claims in an online advert, which were understood to actually be the result of a different (previous) product.
- Whether weight loss examples in the advert were irresponsible and harmful because they encouraged unhealthy weight loss within a short time frame.
- Whether the claims relating to obesity on a website were misleading, irresponsible and harmful because they implied that the product was a treatment for obesity.
- If the claim "All nutrition services are provided by Registered Dieticians (RDs), who are accredited experts in nutrition" in online adverts, were misleading because they understood that the 'dieticians' were not registered on the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) website.
According to the ASA, Advanced Health Ltd acknowledged the complaint, but did not provide a substantive response to its enquiries relating to the complaint. As a result the complaints were upheld.
“The ASA was concerned by Advanced Health Ltd's lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay),” said the ASA. “We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.”
The ASA concluded that the adverts and online information must not appear again in its current form.
“We told Advanced Health Ltd to ensure they held sufficient evidence to support their claims,” said the ASA. “We told them not to claim that a product's fat binding capacity was unbeatable, that it was more efficient than other products, or that it could lead to weight loss and lower cholesterol, if they did not hold supporting evidence. We also told them to ensure that claims for their products related to the products being advertised.”
The ruling also stated that Advanced Health must ensure rates of weight loss were compatible with good medical and nutritional practice and that treatments for obesity were not advertised to the public without suitably qualified supervision.
“We also told them not to claim that their services were provided by registered dietitians if that was not the case."
The matter was referred to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP's) Compliance team.