National Advertising Division Finds SlimFast “Energy For Hours” Claim Supported; Advertiser Appeals Recommendation to Discontinue “Clinically Proven” Claims
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New York, NY – September 15, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that KSF Acquisition Corp. (SlimFast) provided a reasonable basis for its “energy for hours” claim for its SlimFast Food Products & Weight Loss Plans. However, NAD recommended that the advertiser:
- Discontinue the unqualified claims “Clinically Proven: Lose Weight and Keep it Off” and “Clinically Proven.”
- Discontinue the claim “Clinically Proven to Lose Weight & Keep it Off When Used as Part of the SlimFast Plan.”
- Modify the claims “4-hour hunger control” and “satisfies hunger” to inform consumers of the limitations of the study on which the claims are based (e.g., satiety was measured in a laboratory-controlled setting).
The claims at issue, which appeared on the advertiser’s product labels, website, and app, were challenged by Simply Good Foods.
SlimFast food products are low-calorie meal replacement shakes, bars, and snacks. Each individual product bears the claim “Clinically Proven: Lose Weight and Keep it Off.” NAD determined that a reasonable consumer could take away the message that this claim refers to any product upon which it appears, and that it conveys a clinically proven weight-loss and maintenance message about each individual SlimFast product.
NAD noted that the advertiser provided no evidence that each SlimFast product has been individually evaluated. Further, the advertiser’s evidence was limited to studies and expert reports based on weight loss studies on discontinued SlimFast products. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its unqualified claims “Clinically Proven: Lose Weight and Keep it Off” and “Clinically Proven.”
Regarding the claim, “Clinically Proven to Lose Weight & Keep it Off When Used as Part of the SlimFast Plan,” NAD noted that the advertiser’s evidence establishes that consuming a 1,200-1,400-calorie diet is “clinically proven to help lose weight.” However, because the advertiser’s claim is not limited to consuming a low-calorie diet, NAD found that the claim expressly and by implication conveys the message that the current products themselves have been clinically proven to allow consumers to lose weight and keep it off.
NAD noted that while the low-calorie feature of the SlimFast plan is clinically tested, the advertiser has not clinically tested the weight-loss efficacy of its current products or [weight-loss] plans (i.e., the 1-2-3 Original, Diabetic, and Keto [weight-loss] plans). Therefore, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence is not a good fit for its specific claim that SlimFast products and Original, Diabetic, or Keto, plans specifically have been clinically proven to help lose weight.
For those reasons, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “Clinically Proven to Lose Weight & Keep it Off When Used as Part of the SlimFast Plan.” NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making a narrowly tailored claim that low-calorie diets are “clinically proven” to help people “lose weight” and “keep it off,” provided that it clearly, conspicuously, and in close proximity to the main claim disclose that long-term weight maintenance will likely include some weight regain.
NAD determined that the advertiser provided evidence sufficient to establish a reasonable basis for its claim “energy for hours,” which appears on SlimFast’s Advanced Energy RTD shakes with a coffee cup sketch and the statement “as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.” NAD noted evidence that 100-200 mg of caffeine helps restore mental alertness or wakefulness for approximately three to four hours.
The advertiser’s product packaging for its Original and Advanced Nutrition shakes bears the claims “4-hour hunger control,” while “satisfies hunger” appears in SlimFast website advertising for the Keto Fat Bomb snack. NAD determined that the supporting study, which measured participants’ hunger frequently over five hours, was well-designed and that the statistically significant difference in hunger between the water control and the SlimFast test meals was a good fit for the challenged claims.
NAD was concerned, however, that the study had limited consumer relevance because participants were not given access to food during the test period. Therefore, NAD recommended that the performance claims “4-hour hunger control” and “satisfies hunger” be modified with a clear, conspicuous disclosure in close proximity to the main claim that informs consumers of the limitations of the study, e.g., satiety was measured in a laboratory-controlled setting.
At the beginning of the proceeding, the advertiser advised NAD that it had previously decided to permanently discontinue the claim that SlimFast “helps manage blood sugar with the clinically proven SlimFast plan.” Therefore, NAD did not review this claim on its merits.
In its advertiser statement, SlimFast stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision. The advertiser expressed its belief that “NAD erred by failing to account for the extensive and unrebutted scientific support provided by SlimFast” including expert reports opining that “competent and reliable scientific evidence shows that the SlimFast Plan is clinically proven to help consumers lose weight and keep it off.” Such appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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