Illegal influencers: ASA rules social media posts broke health claims rules

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Health claims Asa Social media Instagram Weight loss diet Nutrition

UK advertising authorities have slammed Instagram messages by two companies and three celebrity influencers after they posted adverts for products that broke health claims rules.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld multiple complaints brought against two companies that regularly used social media – and celebrity influencers on Instagram in particular – to promote diet and weight loss products.

Katie Price's Instagram post was one slammed by the ASA. Credit: Instagram

According to the ASA posts on the Instagram pages of Team v24 and ‘Love Island’ personality Georgia Harrison, seen on 13 March 2019, promoted V24's 'weight loss gummies'. Meanwhile, posts for BoomBod weight loss products appeared on the Instagram accounts of Boombod, as well as for ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ star Lauren Goodger and celebrity model and author Katie Price.

The UK ad regulator said the posts by the companies and the trio of influencers did not meet rules relating to health claims that were authorised by the EU Register – with some ads also under fire for referring to rates or amounts of weight loss that are prohibited by the advertising code, and for promoting a diet product in an irresponsible manner.

‘Irresponsible’ messages

The ASA said the ads from Price and Goodger had created the impression that it was ‘necessary or advisable’ for people who were already slim to use products that suppress their appetites.

"It was clear from the ads that the influencers did not need to lose weight in order to achieve a healthy weight,"​ the ASA wrote in the BoomBod ruling. This represented "an irresponsible message",​ the watchdog ruled.

The regulator added that it had concerns that the photo of Goodger also appeared to have been edited to make her waist look ‘artificially thin’ resulting in a situation "that the images were not representative of her real body shape".

"I can't get enough of it!"​ Katie Price wrote in September when she posted a photo of the drink – adding that the product contains vitamins and natural fibre but no laxatives.

'Artificially thin'. The ASA ruled the post by Lauren Goodger was edited. Credit: Instagram

Meanwhile, in March, Lauren Goodger shared a photo of herself holding a BoomBod box: "Can't believe these amazing results I've gotten with @boombod's 7 day Achiever,"​ the former reality TV star posted. "The difference I've noticed from using this stuff is amazing."

Dose not clear

In its ruling against BoomBod, the ASA said it understood that the company’s ingredients list included glucomannan – for which there was an authorised health claim relating to weight loss on the EU Register.

“The claim could be used for products which contained at least 1g of glucomannan per quantified portion, and so long as other additional information, as detailed in the conditions of use for the claim on the EU Register, was provided,”​ wrote the ASA.

“The claim could also only be used for food which contained 1g of glucomannan per quantified portion, but we had not received any documentary evidence in relation to the amount of glucomannan per portion.”

The BoomBod website​ provides product information stating that each portion contains 1g of glucomannan.

However, the regulator ruled that although all the ads made reference to ‘weight loss’, they did not clearly state that glucomannan contributed to weight loss only in the context of an energy restricted diet, nor did they include the additional information required by the conditions of use for the authorised claim.

“Health claims could only be made for the nutrient, substance, food or food category for which they had been authorised, but none of the ads made clear that the health benefit related to glucomannan.”

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