Retailers banned from calling food supplements ‘slimming aids' without evidence

The Advertising Standards Authority told Amazon and Protein World they needed evidence before describing supplements as slimming or weight loss aids.

Amazon and Protein World have been banned from describing food supplements as weight loss or slimming aids unless they have evidence the products meet EU-authorised health claims.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated food supplements sold by Amazon under its ‘slimming aids & weight loss’ category but said the retailer was unable to provide evidence that all the products included substances with a proven link to slimming or weight loss.

The regulator told Amazon it must not list food supplements within the category unless it holds evidence the products are capable of carrying an equivalent health claim authorised on the EU Register.

Amazon's 'slimming aids and weight loss' category. (ASA/PA)
Amazon was unable to provide evidence (ASA/PA)

Regarding Amazon, the ASA said: “We considered that consumers would understand the claim ‘slimming aids & weight loss’ to imply a relationship between the food supplements in the category and a benefit to health; specifically that the supplements could aid or cause slimming/weight loss.

“Because Amazon had not provided any evidence that was the case, we concluded that the claim was misleading.”

The ASA also selected three items from Protein World’s ‘weight loss’ category – The Slender Tea, Carb Blocker and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) Capsules – and asked the retailer to provide evidence the products included substances listed on the EU Register as relating to weight loss, and in sufficient quantities.

Protein World (ASA/PA)
Protein World came under some criticism (ASA/PA)

The ASA said Protein World did not provide any evidence to that effect, and added it was concerned by the retailer’s “lack of substantive response” to its enquiries and “apparent disregard” for advertising rules.

The regulator said: “In the absence of any evidence to demonstrate that the food products and supplements included in the ‘weight loss’ category contained substances, in sufficient quantities, for which there was an authorised health claim relating to weight loss, we concluded that the use of the ‘weight loss’ category heading was in breach of the Code.

“We told Protein World Ltd to ensure that they did not place food supplements or food products in the ‘weight loss’ category unless they held evidence that those products were capable of carrying an equivalent health claim that was authorised on the EU Register.”

An Amazon spokesman said: “While we disagree with the ASA’s assessment we have removed the ‘Slimming Aids & Weight Loss’ category heading from our website.”

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