ASA upholds our complaint against weight loss supplement claims

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld our complaint against misleading advertising claims made by supplement company USN (UK) Ltd.

The ASA investigated claims relating to three “weight loss” products advertised on the website

  • USN’s CLA Thermo was claimed to offer “vital nutrients that cause a Thermogenic reaction within the body”.
  • Phedra Cut Lipo XT was claimed to provide “breakthrough technology for those looking for an optimised multi-action fat burner”.
  • Green Tea containing Phytofare was claimed to “support your metabolism and fat oxidation”. It was also claimed that green tea “inhibits an enzyme involved in the thermogenesis of body fat, which for those looking to shed those extra pounds, this can be vital”.

Supplements claiming to burn fat, boost metabolism or assist weight loss can be very tempting, but unfortunately there is no safe, quick fix. At best, claims of this nature are unsubstantiated and consumers risk wasting their time and money. At worst, products like these can be actively dangerous.

Our concerns regarding CLA Thermo were “informally resolved” after USN agreed to amend their advertising. The remaining issues were upheld in a ruling published today on the ASA website.

The ASA considered that claims relating to fat oxidation, weight loss and fat burning were “health claims”. Only health claims appearing on the EU Register of authorised health claims can be made in advertisements promoting foods (or food supplements). In their response, USN referred to three proposed health claims currently listed as “on hold”. However, the evidence was not adequate to substantiate the advertising claims.

This is not the first time USN have failed to substantiate their claims. The Advertising Standards Authority (South Africa) had made at least 30 decisions against USN’s parent company to force them to remove statements about the effectiveness of their products. USN responded by threatening to take the ASA (South Africa) to court. Fellow South African weight loss company Herbex eventually won a case against the ASA (South Africa) when the Supreme Court of Appeal held that ASA (South Africa) has no jurisdiction over non-members. The ASA (South Africa) went into liquidation last year and were replaced by the Advertising Regulatory Board, which charges a fee for complaints against competitors.

Here in the UK, Advertising Codes and the ASA’s rulings have universal coverage across the advertising industry. Advertisers cannot opt out.

We have also reported Herbex’s UK site to the ASA in the UK.