Advertising for Slimming Products and Services

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Advertising for Slimming Products and Services

1. Introduction: What is Slimming?

1.1 There is a good deal of confusion about slimming, about what given products can do, about whether some products work at all; and about the claims which are made for those products that can be shown to work effectively.

1.2 All advertisers, agencies and media are reminded that advertisements must conform not only to this Part but also the letter and spirit of all other relevant sections of the Code.

1.3 All advertising offered for publication on either a weight loss or a figure control platform has to be checked by publishers before it can be accepted for publication. To facilitate this prepublication checking, no new ‘slimming’ copy should be submitted unless at least 7 days are available for checking by media.

1.4 When a new product or new formulation is introduced or when new claims are made for an existing product, the advertiser or agency should submit full substantiation for all new claims at the same time as the copy text or illustrations for the proposed advertisement, otherwise delays may be expected. Independent testimony will be required from medical practitioners registered in Malaysia as to any physiological effects claimed. Testimonials from users of a product do not constitute substantiation.

1.5 The advertiser must ensure that his audience is entirely clear which of the possible ways of achieving ‘slimness’ is provided or helped by his product. The word ‘slim’ is used, so far as human beings are concerned, to cover quite different basic situations: losing weight, and controlling the figure so as to achieve an impression of slimness either by the strengthening of muscles or by the wearing of garments.

2. Weight loss

2.1 General Principles

2.1.1 References to weight loss are to be taken as referring also to weight limitation and control. Weight limitation or control, by preventing the re-accumulation of excess fat, are also common objectives.

2.1.2 The only way for a person to lose weight, other than temporarily, is taking in less energy (calories) than the body is using, i.e. burning up the excess fat the body has stored. A diet is the only practicable self- treatment for achieving a reduction of this excess fat.

2.1.3 Diet plans, and aids to dieting of the kinds dealt with below, are therefore the products which may be offered in advertisements as capable of effecting any loss in weight. Claims, whether direct or indirect, that weight loss or slimming can be achieved by any other means are not acceptable in advertisements addressed to the public.

2.1.4 Temporary weight loss can be achieved by the expulsion of water from the body. This may not be represented in advertisements as a method of slimming.

2.1.5 (Overweight in young people is sometimes associated with a defective action of the glands) and they should be advised to consult their doctors before embarking upon a slimming diet.

2.1.6 Obesity is a condition requiring medical attention and treatment. No claims referring to reducing obesity should be made in advertisements directed to the public.

2.1.7 There may be many reasons for being overweight, either medical or physical. Dieters should be advised, in either the advertisement or packaging, to consult their doctors before embarking on a slimming course.

2.2 Diet Plans

2.2.1 Evidence will be required from the advertiser to show that the suggested diet(s)
will provide adequate amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals, and that the diet is capable of achieving the results claimed, when followed by the kind of person for whom it is intended.

2.2.2 No claim, direct or indirect, should be made in an advertisement for a diet plan that it contains any ingredient which in itself has the property of hastening the process of weight loss There is no ground for supposing that any specific foods have particular properties which speed up the metabolic processes which cause excess fat to be ‘burnt up’ and thus weight to be lost.

2.2.3 Advertisements for ‘crash’ diets are unacceptable.

2.3 Aids to Dieting – General

2.3.1 Diet aids, such as foods, food substitutes, or appetite depressants, may not be
advertised except in terms which make clear that they can only be effective when taken in conjunction with, or as part of, a calorie controlled diet. Due prominence should be given in all advertisements to the part played by the diet.

2.3.2 Any diet plan provided in conjunction with diet aids, whether on pack, in advertisements or otherwise, will be required to conform to the advice given above on diet plans, and details of the diets proposed should therefore be enclosed, with appropriate substantiation, when clearance of advertising is sought.

2.3.3 Advertisements for diet aids should also conform to the advice given above as to the non-acceptability of certain claims for the individual effectiveness of specific foods or other diet ingredients.

2.3.4 Where a claim made in an advertisement or on a label that any food is an aid to slimming; it must be substantiated, and include a statement that the food cannot aid slimming except as part of a diet in which the total intake of calories is controlled, whether by calorie counting, low carbohydrate/high protein or other means.

2.4 Foods

2.4.1 Advertisements for foods offered as diet aids should give a quantitative statement
of the ingredients contained in it on which the claim of special suitability is based.

2.4.2 Particular care should be taken to ensure that the advertisements for meal substitutes do not imply that these products are effective if eaten in addition to normal meals rather than instead of them.

2.5 Appetite Depressants

2.5.1 Advertisements for appetite depressants should make clear how they work and
will only be regarded as acceptable when adequate evidence has been provided by advertisers that the product is safe and effective at the level of consumption suggested.

2.5.2 Claims on the effect of appetite depressants should not be expressed in terms of food equivalent e.g. equal to two eggs.

2.6 Weight Loss Products in General

2.6.1 No ‘weight loss’ products should be advertised on the basis of claims such as ‘Eat
as much as you like’, ‘Eat, eat, eat!’, ‘Eat and get slim’ or anything similar tending to remove due emphasis from the primary importance of maintaining a balanced calorie-control diet.

3. Figure Control

3.1 General Principles

3.1.1 Figure control may be achieved in two ways: exercise and garments (e.g. corsets).

3.1.2 It is possible for exercise to add strength to muscles and thus to aid their ability to decrease bulges which may develop where the muscles are slack. An improvement in posture may also benefit the figure. Exercise may be active or passive.

3.2 Exercise

3.2.1 No claims will be accepted for exercise based products on the basis that they may also lead to weight loss. Diet sheets or diet aids distributed together with exercises or other aids will not be taken as any ground for allowing weight loss claims to be made.

3.2.2 Exercise only operates slowly to improve muscle tone. Claims for exercise products therefore should not suggest dramatic improvements over short periods.

3.2.3 Some exercise programmes may lead to strains from which the health of particular individuals might suffer. Advertisements for such products may be required to include advice to purchasers to check with a doctor on the advisability of their undergoing the exercises proposed.

3.2.4 The effect of this category of product may not be described by the use of the word ‘slim’. Where the name of the product itself, or of the manufacturer, contains the word ‘slim’, either alone or in combination, particular care should be taken in the copy text to avoid any misunderstanding by the suggestion of possible weight loss benefits.

3.3 Garments

3.3.1 Advertisers of corsets and similar products should always take particular care
that no hint or suggestion occurs in either copy text or illustration which might lead a reader to suppose that these products may contribute to weight loss. Nor should there be any suggestion that they confer any permanent, physiological benefits comparable to those afforded by exercises.

3.3.2 The effect of this category of product may not be described by the use of the word ‘slim’ (unless so qualified as to make the true effect plain). Where the name of the product, itself, or of the manufacturer, contains the word ‘slim’ either alone or in combination, particular care should be taken in the copy text to avoid any misunderstanding by the suggestion of possible weight loss benefits.

4. Combined Methods

4.1 Slimmer’s Clubs

4.1.1 The purpose of these clubs is fundamentally to provide psychological support for
those who find it difficult to stick to a diet. There is no objection to the acceptance of advertisements for such clubs provided that the advertisements do not make claims inconsistent with the advice in the Code.

4.2 Clinics and Health Clubs

4.2.1 Insofar as any clinic or club offers treatment aimed at the achievement of weight
loss or figure control, any claims made must conform to the advice given in the Code.

4.2.2 Many clubs and clinics offer treatments other than those for weight loss or figure control. Such treatments should not be referred to in advertisements in contexts which might suggest that they have any weight loss or figure control effect.

4.3 Courses

4.3.1 Some advertisers offer ‘slimming courses’ which consist of books, records or
tapes containing advice on how best to achieve either weight loss or figure control. Advertising for such courses should conform to the relevant advice given in the Code depending upon the methods recommended.

4.3.2 In addition, advertisements for courses should make clear that what is offered is advice in the form of a book, record or tape.

5. General Claims

5.1 Use of the Word ‘Slim’

5.1.1 For the purposes of the Code, the word ‘slim’, and compounds such as slimming,
will be taken in the context with which the Code is concerned to imply weight loss. The only exception which will be permitted is in connection with garments (see 3.7 above) which is restricted to references in contexts where no physiological or permanent effect is claimed or implied; and in connection with the names of the products and their manufacturers in the circumstances set out below in relation to figure control products.

5.2 Claims to Specific Weight or Inch Losses.

5.2.1 Claims in the form (you can lose up to X kilograms or Y centimeters, look
X kilograms lighter) are unacceptable. The measurements and weights of individuals and their degrees of application vary too widely for such claims to be other than misleading when made in general terms.

5.3 Claims for Efficacy within a Stated Period

5.3.1 For the reason given above in 5.2, claims in the form (you can start to slim in X
days, how to slim in less than X weeks, lose X centimeters immediately) are unacceptable.

5.4 Claims that Individuals have Lost Specific Amounts of Weight and Number of Inches

5.4.1 Such claims should, where appropriate, conform to the advice given in the Code on Testimonials. In addition, such claims:
(i) Should be fully compatible with authoritative medical or scientific opinion as to the likely efficacy of the method(s) involved.
(ii) Should not be made without the permission of the individual concerned. (iii) Should state the period over which the t claimed benefit was achieved.
(iv) Should not be based upon unusual or unrepresentative individual experiences.

5.4.2 Substantiation will be required in all cases to show that these requirements have been met.

5.4.3 Where there are illustrations (or an illustration) of the individual concerned, these should not exaggerate any loss achieved and should in case of ‘before and after’ illustrations permit a fair comparison to be made.

5.4.4 In the case of figure control claims, the results on various parts of the anatomy should not be aggregated, but should be listed individually.

5.5 Exaggerated Claims

5.5.1 Claims as to uniqueness, novelty or a greater degree of efficacy than other products should not be made unless there is adequate substantiation for the product’s difference in significant respects from other available slimming products. Care should be taken not to suggest that given methods “cannot fail, must work”. Because of the enormous variations between individuals in terms of weight, build and physical condition as well as in psychological preparedness, the most that can be claimed for any method is a high probability of success.

5.6 Vitamins

5.6.1 Vitamins have no effect on slimming.

5.6.2 Well balanced diets are not deficient in vitamin or trace mineral elements. However, it is possible that certain slimming diets, particularly ‘crash’ diets and poorly planned diets may contain less than the recommended daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. Consequently, vitamin/ mineral supplements may be offered to safeguard against such deficiencies but it must be made clear they do not contribute to weight reduction.

5.7 Illustration

5.7.1 Where there is any claim or implication that a person depicted in an illustration has benefited from the product or service being offered, that illustration must conform to the advice given in 5.4 above.

5.7.2 Individuals should not be presented in such a way as to suggest that the subject has enjoyed any particular benefit of the kind discussed above.

5.8 Products, the efficacy of which for Slimming (Weight Reduction or Figure Control) has not yet been adequately substantiated should not be advertised

5.8.1 The following are instances of products and methods for which slimming (weight loss or figure control) claims are not acceptable:

(i) Machines or vibrator machines including electrical muscle and nerve stimulators.
(ii) Inflatable garments.
(iii) Sauna and Turkish baths.
(iv) Products based upon osmosis.
(v) Bath essences, soaps.
(vi) Products claiming artificially to increase the metabolic rate of the body.
(vii) Diuretics, laxatives.
(viii) Hypnosis.
(ix) Products claiming to offer ‘spot reduction’ (i.e. to remove fat from specified parts of the body).
(x) Products claiming to achieve slimming through the removal of ‘cellulite’.
(xi) Thermal pads.

5.8.2 It will not be regarded as sufficient to validate the advertising of any of these categories of products as efficacious in themselves for weight or figure control, that a diet plan or dieting aids or an exercise scheme or treatment is offered with them.

Advertising for Slimming Products and Services