An advert for the LighterLife weight loss plans and groups has been banned because the weight loss achievements listed in the adverts were too successful(!)
The adverts featured Denise Welch, who many will know as barmaid and then landlady, Natalie Barnes, of the Rovers Return in ITV’s Coronation Street.
The adverts promoted the fact that Denise had lost more than 2lb per week on the LighterLife plan. Whilst this sounds like a smashing achievement, the Advertising Standards Agency viewed the weight loss as too rapid and could encourage others to endanger their health by following too low calorie a diet.
The argument for banning the diet is that very low calorie diets of under 600 kcal per day should only be done so under clinical supervision. LighterLife argued that whilst their diet plan was a very low calorie diet, it was not under 600 kcal and that people that required medical supervision received it.
The ASA ultimately ruled that: “the code specified that for those who were normally overweight, a rate of weight loss greater than 2lb a week was unlikely to be compatible with good medical and nutritional practice.”
The ASA are clearly looking out for the public’s health but Denise Welch herself felt the ASA were being far too mollycoddling:
“The ASA says I lost weight too quickly. How can that be right, when the food packs comply with all the nutritional rules, including trading standards, and I did exactly what I was supposed to do with them?”
The star expressed exasperation that, with much of the nation struggling with weight management, bureaucracy is getting in the way of solutions that look to address it, suggesting that: “The Advertising Standards people need to get out more.”
What are your thoughts?
Research shows that significant weight loss has a number of benefits, particularly for people either with or at risk of type 2 diabetes. Should the ASA be stepping in to prevent ads that are ultimately aimed at improving health?
Is this health legislation gone mad? Should ads get banned because people were losing weight too successfully, despite doing so healthily? Is the UK too protective over how the public ‘could’ react?
Or were the ASA right to pull the ad? Is it important to take care not to encourage people into diets that could, for some people, lead to malnutrition? ')}