BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Examines Claims Made by Weight-Loss Clinic; Slimgenics Modifies Testimonials During NAD Review
New York, NY – Feb. 23, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Slimgenics, LLC, modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s weight-loss clinic. The claims at issue were challenged by Minnesota Weight Control, a competing weight-loss clinic.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The challenger in this case argued that the advertiser’s consumer testimonials failed to incorporate the disclaimers required by Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines.
Testimonials included weight loss claims ranging from 20 to 295 pounds in conjunction with the disclaimer “Individual results may vary.”
In previous cases NAD has recognized that “almost all weight-loss experts agree that the key to long-term weight management lies in permanent lifestyle changes that include, among other things, a nutritious diet at a moderate caloric level and regular exercise.”
The NAD and National Advertising Review Board have observed that the National Institutes of Health recommend that “deficit of 500 to 1,000 kcal/day should be an integral part of any program aimed at achieving a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.”
The advertiser’s program, NAD noted, is designed in accordance with this sound guidance and can help clients achieve weight loss. The advertiser explained that its STEP program promotes weight-loss through incorporating healthy eating habits with individualized nutritional plans that includes dietary supplements and one-on-one counseling. The advertiser explained that its weight-reduction nutrition plans are tailored to how much weight an individual would like to lose, age, gender, activity level and health profile. NAD determined that the advertiser had provided a reasonable basis for a typicality disclosure that “individuals typically lose 1-2 pounds per week.”
However, the advertiser provided no evidence that consumers could expect to lose as much weight as claimed in many of its published testimonials — anywhere from twenty to 295 pounds. As NAD noted in its decision, unless an advertiser can substantiate that a consumer endorser’s claims are typical of most users, the advertiser must clearly disclose the performance that consumer can typically expect or the extent of the typicality of the endorser’s experience.
During the course of NAD’s review, the advertiser modified its testimonial disclaimer to “individuals typically lose 1-2 pounds per week” to appear clearly and conspicuously with its testimonial success stories.
In addition to its modifications, the advertiser represented that it had permanently discontinued claims that included: “Lose up to 3-5 pounds a week; “Lose up to 20 pounds in the first 30 days;” “Metabolizer herbs “boost the metabolism and aid in cleansing and detoxifying the body and its systems;” “Metabolizer herbs result in: more repaid weight loss; increased energy for work and exercise; decreased hunger sensations;” “I was amazed at how fast the weight came off and I was never hungry.” NAD found that such permanent discontinuance was necessary and appropriate.
SlimGenics, in it advertiser’s statement, said it has “already made all of the changes recommended by NAD and will take its recommendations into account with future advertising.”