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Reduce Fat Fast / Dr HA Steinman / 675

Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Homemark (Pty) Ltd Respondent

04 May 2005

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against advertising on the www.homemark.co.za website for Homemark’s Reduce Fat Fast product.

The website states, inter alia, “Through an easy and natural way without risks. Our natural formula REDUCE FAT-FAST will help you loose weight by controlling your appetite and stimulating your metabolism in a natural way. Not only will you look better but you’ll also feel better. You’ll loose body fat easily and quickly with REDUCE FAT-FAST…The only natural diet capsule with four clinical studies!”

COMPLAINT
The complainant submitted that he is not aware of any clinical studies proving that this product works. Furthermore, knowing that the individual ingredients have not been proven to have any efficacy, the complainant doubts whether these “clinical studies” are credible.

The advertisement also does not state that the product should be used with a calorie-reduced diet. This falsely implies that using the product alone will result in rapid fat loss.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

• Appendix A – Medicinal and related products and advertisements containing health claims

• Appendix E – Advertising for slimming

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted the clinical study material from LHS laboratories in France, which it believes supports the claims made. It also submitted verification of the advertised claims from an American based company called Premier Solutions.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
At a meeting held on 4 May 2005 the ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

During the course of this investigation, the respondent has suggested the Directorate forward its research, which is considered confidential, to the complainant for him to evaluate.

As the task of evaluating the substantiation of advertised claims lays with the Directorate, it serves no purpose to request the complainant to evaluate the material. It is the Directorate’s duty to determine whether the parameters of Clause 4.1 are met.

The product claims, inter alia, the following:

  1. “Our natural formula REDUCE FAT-FAST will help you lose Fat-Fast by controlling your appetite and stimulating your metabolism” and

  2. “You’ll lose body fat easily and quickly with REDUCE FAT-FAST.”

The clinical studies submitted by the respondent do not verify these advertised claims.

As a result, the Directorate requested independent verification of the claims that this product can “help you lose Fat-Fast by controlling your appetite and stimulating your metabolism in a natural way” and that it will enable users to “lose body fat easily and quickly”.

The respondent subsequently submitted verification of these claims from an American based company called Premier Solutions. From the website www.premiersolutions.com and www.reducefatfast.com, it appears ex facie that this company manufactures and distributes the product Reduce Fat-Fast.

Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code requires substantiating documents to emanate from, or be evaluated by an entity who is independent, credible and an expert in the field to which the claims relate (our emphasis).

The verification from Premier Solutions is not independent as required by Clause 4.1 of Section II, as the company Premier Solutions ex facie has a financial interest in the successful marketing and sale of this product.

Accordingly, the claims that the product can “help you lose Fat-Fast by controlling your appetite and stimulating your metabolism in a natural way” and that it will enable users to “lose body fat easily and quickly” are not verified by an independent source as envisaged by Clause 4.1 of Section II.

In light of the above, the advertising material contravenes Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code.

The respondent is required to:

  1. Withdraw the advertising material in its current format,

  2. The process of withdrawing this material must be actioned with immediate effect,

  3. The process of withdrawing the material must be completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide, and

  4. The material may not be used again in future until new substantiation is submitted, evaluated and a new ruling is made.

In light of the above contravention of the Code, the Directorate does not need to consider the other clauses at this time.

The Directorate also notes, for the guidance of the respondent, that Clause 2.3.1 of Appendix E, requires advertising for aids for slimming to carry a statement indicating that the product is only effective when used in conjunction with or as part of a kilojoule controlled diet. Due prominence should be given to the part played by the diet. The complainant raised this issue, but the respondent did not comment on it.

The complaint is upheld.

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