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Thursday, 7 February, 2002, 00:20 GMT
Slimming adverts 'misleading'
Scales
Promotions promise too much say campaigners
Many slimming advertisements contain unwarranted marketing hype, according to new research.

The vast majority of slimming promotions featured in women's magazines were considered to breach advertising codes of practice by the campaign group Sustain.


They [advertisements] prey upon people's vulnerabilities particularly at this time of year

Campaigner Charlie Powell
It wants the advertising watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to more closely scrutinise claims made by slimming promotions online.

Sustain spokesman Charlie Powell told the BBC: "The proportion of misleading adverts is much higher within the slimming industry than in other industries.

Exaggerated claims

"They are very exploitative and potentially can be damaging to people's health if they take some of the claims literally.

Obese women
Women are said to be particularly under pressure to lose weight
"They prey upon people's vulnerabilities particularly at this time of year."

He said women felt particularly under pressure to lose weight and live up to images conveyed in the media.

He highlighted one advertisement that claimed you could lose four stone in eight weeks.

"Apart from being medically disastrous that is nigh on impossible without surgery," he said.

And he argued that the claims of slimming advertising was getting worse.

His group is calling for pre-vetting of adverts and promotions by magazine publishers to check that British codes of advertising and sales promotion are not contravened.

It is the role of the ASA to ensure print advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful.

Campaigners are concerned that the authority will not consider complaints about inaccurate, untruthful or unsubstantiated claims if they are more than 12 weeks old.

The advertising watchdog said that it sees no need to extend its power as it works well as it is.

See also:

05 Feb 02 | Health
Pill helps obese lose weight
15 Jan 02 | Business
Cashing in on slimmer ambitions
22 Mar 00 | Health
Obesity clue to cancer rise
15 Feb 01 | Health
Obesity rate triples
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