BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Examines Advertising for Nutrition 21

 New York, NY – Nov.  25, 2008 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Nutrition 21, Inc., the marketer of Core4Life Advanced Memory Formula (AMF), modify or discontinue certain advertising claims.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined print advertising for Core4Life AMF pursuant to NAD’s ongoing monitoring of advertising in the dietary supplements marketplace and in conjunction with an initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Claims at issue included:

“Only Core4Life Advanced Memory Formula offers the unique combination of Chromium Picolinate, Phosphatidylserine (PS) and DHA to provide nutrition support while promoting healthy glucose metabolism to:

          – Improve Memory

          – Increase Alertness

          – Improve Focus and Vitality”

  • “Promotes healthy blood sugar, important for brain health.”
  • “Maintains brain fluidity and may help in maintenance of cognitive functions.”
  • “Supports communication between brain cells and promotes improved memory.”

The advertisement also featured a “scorecard” asking the consumer, “How Healthy Is Your Memory? Rate how each of these statements describes you.” This is followed by a list of statements (below) and the statement, “If you score 10 or more, Core4Life Advanced Memory Formula is right for you”:

  • “I want to improve my memory”
  • “I experience physical or mental fatigue”
  • “I find it hard to think straight”
  • “I have a short attention span”
  • “I feel forgetful”

The product packaging is also pictured in the advertisement and the following claims are visible on the box:

  • “Improves Memory & Recall”
  • “Increases Alertness & Concentration”
  • “Helps Improve Focus and Vitality”

At the outset, the advertiser noted that it holds a patent for its formula for Core4Life, and, as support for its claims, submitted the results of a study that tested effects of Core4Life on rats. The advertiser asserted that, in the studies, the dosage administered to the rats was proportional, based on their size, to the recommended dosage for humans.  The memory of the rats significantly improved.   The advertiser asserted that all the studies cited used the generally accepted methods for testing “learning and memory” and “cognitive measures,” as outlined by the National Institutes of Health’s Healthy Brain Project.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD found that the body of the advertising at issue included two contrasting types of advertising claims, those posed as product claims, and those posed as ingredient claims. Further, NAD found that the advertiser provided sufficient ingredient testing for each ingredient to support general non-quantified claims relating to the potential ability of the ingredients in AMF to help improve memory and concentration.

Further, NAD determined that the advertiser could support the claims that AMF is a “unique combination.”

NAD found, however, that the advertiser’s unqualified claims that AMF “Improves Memory & Recall,” “Increases Alertness & Concentration” and “Helps Improve Focus and Vitality” – claims that appeared on the front panel of the product packaging – were not supported by the evidence, and should be discontinued or modified to more accurately reflect the existing evidence.

NAD further determined that the “scorecard” at issue conveyed broad and unsupported product performance claims that should be discontinued or modified to reflect the existing evidence.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it appreciates “NAD’s careful consideration in making its decision and agrees to take the NAD’s conclusions and recommendations in this matter into account in future advertising of its Core4Life Advanced Memory Formula product.”