Truth in Advertising

Check this out. In the UK their Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the folks who write and maintain UK’s advertising code just published new guidelines regarding the advertising of weight loss products and services.

What’s no longer allowed?
„X Claiming that people can lose a precise amount of weight in a specific period of time.
„X Claiming that spot reduction exists.
„X Advertising weight loss products or services to minors.
„X Implying that weight loss will be permanent.
„X Implying that weight loss will be easy.
„X Implying that a person can eat whatever they want and still lose.
„X Suggesting certain foods can help you lose specific amounts of weight.
„X Making claims about services or products not supportable by means of evidence.
„X Utilizing testimonials that suggest more than 2lb/wk weight loss.
„X Utilizing products that purport to “bind fat”.
„X Implying vitamin or mineral formulations are beneficial to weight loss.
„X Implying that a product or procedure will remove “toxins” from the body.
And lastly there’s this amazing statement,
“Obesity is frequently associated with a medical condition and a treatment for it must not be advertised to the public unless it is to be used under suitably qualified supervision.”

I am curious: I think that this is a great idea, but what do you think? In the US, anyway, dieting and weight loss products are a multibillion dollar industry. Items that are not much more than “snake oil” with a celebrity endorsement are sold to desperate, unsuspecting consumers. It’s unfortunate and unhealthy as these folks go from one product to another trying to find the one miracle pill/patch/potion that will produce the weight loss that they seek.

In Florida about 10 years ago our state legislature tried something similar by passing the “Consumer Weight Loss Bill of Rights”. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, and while it sounds impressive in theory in reality the law has very little bite. Florida appears very reluctant to enforce it and in fact our current Commissioner of Ag didn’t know that it even existed until the dietetics community pointed it out to him.

The take home message for today is buyer beware. That extra weight did not go on overnight and you won’t be able to lose it overnight either. Seek out the services of a Registered Dietitian for a weight loss plan that you can live with and that works! To locate an RD in the US go to http://www.eatright.org and click on “Find a dietitian” in the right upper corner of the page.

Copyright 2013

About nadineandadamblog

Nadine and Adam are mother and son. Nadine lives in Florida where she has provided outpatient MNT in a large healthsystem for the past 20 years. In addition, she teaches nutrition to second and third year family medicine residents. She is a past-spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Adam lives in Washington State. His career has largely been involved in recipe development and food production. He is currently developing recipes and menus for the Seattle schools to meet the new federal guidelines for school nutrition programs and he does outpatient nutrition counseling. He is also a voice in PSAs over Seattle radio representing the Washington Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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