UK advertising watchdog issues diet marketing guidelines

Diets that promise adherents can lose a specific amount of weight in a specific timeframe, especially those that promote rapid weight-loss or glorify being underweight, are also prohibited.

“In addition to objective claims, marketers must also prepare their ads with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society,”the ASA wrote.

“This means that ads must not promote an unhealthy body image, exploit insecurities, or create pressure to conform to a particular body type (including idealized gender stereotypical appearances).”

The watchdog further determined diet ads should not target under-18s.

It noted it had in the past ruled against ads that used “models who appear to be unhealthily thin” while simultaneously acknowledging that, “featuring thin models in ads is not considered inherently socially irresponsible”.

Time for a calorie-reduced health claim?

Dr Carrie Ruxton, Dr Carrie Ruxton, Founder and MD of Nutrition Communications, agreed with the guidance’s basic tenets, but offered some sympathy for the diet sector’s marketing efforts in the absence of an authorized calorie-reduced health claim.

,We need to have a health claim for calorie-reduced diet plans because at present there isn’t an off the shelf claim that businesses can use,”Dr Ruxton told NutraIngredients.

“It’s all very well saying businesses must make authorized health claims but there are only a couple for weight-loss and we are facing an obesity epidemic now! We can’t afford to wait another decade for more claims so let’s get some generic ones on the books for evidence-based diets.”


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