A weight-loss product distributor has been found to have been misleading consumers – an increasingly common problem in SA, according to the doctor who complained about an advert for Body2Tone.
Body2Tone, a weight-loss pill with the slogan “No empty promises just results!”, did not have sufficient evidence to back up several of the claims on its website, according to the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.
The ASA ruled on Monday that Body2Tone’s distributors, Natural Body Distribution (NBD), had not responded to the complaint with a report from an independent, credible expert to back up claims that its product would “burn fat, increase energy, improve metabolism” or “reduce cravings and control appetite”.
The distributor could also not prove that a quoted testimonial from a Dr Jacques Lotz was in fact from a registered doctor.
NBD responded to the complaint and said its claims did not suggest the consumer would lose weight, but that the consumer could lose weight by using the product. The ASA disagreed.
The complainant, Dr Harris Steinman, from Cape Town, said many of these weight-loss products were scams because they were unregulated.
He said this had resulted in an increasing amount of unsubstantiated weight loss adverts in South Africa.
Often, little research had been done into the natural products’ relationship to weight loss, or the distributors inflated these effects in their claims, said Steinman.
“There are now approximately 155 000 unregulated and untested products on the market, of which probably 99 percent are scams,” he said.
Steinman added that most of these were “complementary medicines” that had not gone through the same testing and scrutiny as food products and orthodox medicines.
He said only two or three of Body2Tone’s 27 listed ingredients had weight-loss effects. These had still not been fully scientifically verified, while another two were actually known to stimulate appetite.
The ASA ruled that the website must remove the offending claims and the title of doctor from the testimonial within two weeks.
NBD had not responded to The Star’s enquiry by late on Wednesday afternoon. - The Star
Makers of weight loss pill rebuff criticism
Distributors plan to fight ruling by Advertising Standards Authority
PROMISES: Body2Tone products that claim they burn fat and increase energy.
Yesterday, The Star reported that the distributors of the Body2Tone weight-loss pills, Natural Body Distribution (NBD), had been found guilty of making unsubstantiated claims on their website following a complaint made by Dr Harris Steinman.
NBD said they would fight the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling that it must remove claims made on their website that their product will “burn fat, increase energy, improve metabolism” and “reduce cravings and control appetite”.
The Asa also said they must remove the title of doctor from a testimonial on its site as they did not provide proof that the man was a registered doctor.
The testimonial of the product was made by a Dr Jacques Lotz, who said he is an ethnomedicine practitioner registered with ethnomedicine associations and the SA Natural Health Practitioners Board, but not the Health Professions Council of SA.
Wayne de Jager of NBD said he had proof of Lotz’s qualifications, but did not know why they weren’t submitted to the Asa on time. He said he would submit them in order to fight the Asa ruling.
He said they would also instruct their attorneys to force Steinman to remove comments he has made on his own website, a blog about alternative medicines.
NBD want the following statement made on Steinman’s blog to be removed: “Again, another product making claims that just sound too good to be true, and including a fake doctor to boot!”
“We think Steinman has made preposterous allegations,” said De Jager.
NBD have sufficient scientific evidence to back up their claims, according to De Jager. However, Steinman said there was no sufficient empirical proof that the ingredients were proven to be effective in weight loss and that often the manufacturers combined multiple ingredients simply to make the product “look very impressive”.