Body2Tone Weight Loss Plan

04 June 2012

Again, another product making claims that just sound too good to be true, and including a fake doctor to boot!

At their website, Body2Tone make a number of claims which if true, would make this the first product in the world to really result in weight-loss, a miracle indeed. The website claims: “”One of the most powerful and effective weight loss systems ever created” Dr Jacques Lotz.

Yep, Jacques Lotz does not appear to be a medical doctor and the claims are false for their is absolutely not a shred of proof that either the individual ingredients, or the combination thereof, can result in weight-loss.

A consumer laid a complaint with the ASA arguing that this product is no more than a scam, unless the company could supply proof that the product can work. Nil evidence worth anything, so the ASA ruled against the claims. But scams don’t admit that they are caught out, more people to catch first…..

And beware, a “money-back guarantee” is no guarantee but a simple ploy for a consumer to believe the product works.

A reader has asked me for some clarification on what I have written here.

What is a scam product? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a scam as “a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”, and therefore a scam product would be  “a fraudulent or deceptive product”. One cannot infer that the individual(s) behind the product are deliberately lying, whether they really believe in the claims, or simply misunderstand or exaggerate what is possible. I suggest that a product is a scam for without proof, that claim may only be a guess, or impossible. An owner/company can only be said to be scam artists if one can show that they knowingly made unsupported claims. Therefore in context: is there a product anywhere in the world that has proven amazing weight-loss capability? No. Is it possible that this is the first one? Show the proof – evidence that is reviewed by experts in the field. Until a claim is proven, do not believe it. 

Body2Tone Weight Loss Plan / H A Steinman / 20249
Ruling of the : ASA Directorate
In the matter between:
Dr Harris Steinman Complainant(s)/Appellant(s)
Natural Body Distribution (Pty) Ltd Respondent

04 Jun 2012

http://www.asasa.org.za/ResultDetail.aspx?Ruling=6115 

Dr Steinman lodged a consumer complaint against NBN’s Internet advertisement promoting its Body2tone products. The advertisement was published on 4 May 2012 at www.body2tone.com. The complainant also referred to an email message but did not attach the said message.

The Internet advertisement contains, inter alia, the following claims:

“One of the most powerful and active weight loss systems ever created”, which is presented as a quote taken from one “Dr Jacques Lotz”,

“The Body2tone weight loss pills assist in addressing the bodys metabolism, the bodys ability to breakdown fat, mood and mindset, the thyroid, Insulin, sugar and cravings, the bodys digestive system, water retention, the bodys ability to cope with stress and recovery and liver function, and these eight factors were identified as the most necessary to be addressed in order to achieve lasting and effective weight loss”,

“*Burn Fat * Increase Energy * Improve Metabolism”,

“*Reduce cravings and Control Appetite”,

“*Improve liver function * Detox * Stimulate the Thyroid *”,

“Fight free Radicals with powerful Antioxidants”,

“*Assist Insulin Resistance * Improve Digestion”,

“The Body2tone capsules can help you lose more weight than you would on exercise and lifestyle alone by assisting with the healing process and bringing the body back into balance. This process can take 2-4 weeks depending on person to person – it didn’t take your body’s metabolism and functions to slow down overnight therefore it won’t heal and improve overnight”.

COMPLAINT
In essence, the complainant submitted that the advertisement makes unsubstantiated claims. He explained that there is no evidence to show that the individual ingredients listed on the respondent’s website will aid in or result in weight loss, and not a single study has ever been conducted to show that these ingredients in combination would result in any weight loss.

The complainant added that he was unable to find any verification showing that Jacques Lotz is actually a doctor as claimed in the advertising. If he is not registered as such, the reference to him as “Dr Jacques Lotz” would be misleading.

Lastly, the complainant took issue with the implication that this product would be beneficial to all who take it when current scientific evidence shows that no single dietary regime would suit all individuals, and that an individualised and catered diet is required. In support of this, he attached a document compiled by the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE
In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were be taken into account:

• Section II, Clause 4.1 – Substantiation

• Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims

RESPONSE
The respondent submitted, inter alia, that it does not claim that the product “will” deliver results, but that it “can” do so. The Body2tone weight loss system comprises of capsules and a lifestyle plan. The lifestyle plan’s main objective is educating consumers as to what a healthy diet and lifestyle is about, and it has shown results. All information on its website was taken from scientific studies, universities, institutes and claims professionals have made on the internet.

It added that the statement attributed to Dr Lotz is not an efficacy claim but a quote reflecting Dr Jacques Lotz’s opinion on the Body2tone system.

The product comes with a money back guarantee and any consumer who feels that the product and the lifestyle plan has not worked gets refunded within a week. It also pointed out that its advertising carries the “only effective when used in conjunction with the lifestyle plan provided” statement.

The respondent also submitted a wealth of research articles and studies conducted on the individual active ingredients purported to be contained in Body2Tone capsules.

ASA DIRECTORATE RULING
The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

Insofar as substantiation is concerned, the Directorate agrees with the complainant that the advertising at issue clearly makes certain efficacy claims. While the Directorate is willing to accept that the opinion of “Dr Jacques Lotz” is clearly presented as an opinion or puffery, the fact remains that the product claims to, inter alia, deliver definite effects to the following extent:

“… assist in addressing the bodys metabolism, the bodys ability to breakdown fat, mood and mindset, the thyroid, Insulin, sugar and cravings, the bodys digestive system, water retention, the bodys ability to cope with stress and recovery and liver function …”

“*Burn Fat * Increase Energy * Improve Metabolism”,

“*Reduce cravings and Control Appetite”,

“*Improve liver function * Detox * Stimulate the Thyroid *”,

“Fight free Radicals with powerful Antioxidants”,

“*Assist Insulin Resistance * Improve Digestion”

“… help you lose more weight than you would on exercise and lifestyle alone by assisting with the healing process and bringing the body back into balance …” along with claiming to facilitate this process in “2 – 4 weeks …”.

These claims are clearly capable of objective verification as envisaged by the Code.

Clause 4.1 of Section II states, inter alia, that advertisers shall hold documentary evidence to support all claims that are capable of objective substantiation. Clause 4.1.4 further states that documentary evidence, other than survey data, shall emanate from or be evaluated by a person or entity which is independent, credible, and an expert in the particular field to which the claims relate and be acceptable to the ASA. finally, it is trite that the ASA requires unequivocal, product-specific evidence when considering substantiation for efficacy claims made.

The respondent effectively relied on ingredient-specific information sourced from various online websites, without necessary explaining why all these sources should be accepted as credible experts and how the information contained here relates to the product, if at all.

The problem the Directorate is faced with is that it is not a technical or scientific body able to interpret the information submitted. It therefore expected, as provided for in Clause 4.1.5.1 of Section II, the respondent to furnish it with a report emanating from an independent, credible, expert to confirm and verify that the submitted documentation confirms the exact claims made in the advertisement complained of.

The Directorate also notes that none of the information supplied appear to relate to the respondent’s product as it is sold in the market. Accordingly, research relating only to ingredients supposedly found in the respondent’s product is of no use to the Directorate at this time.

Given the absence of any independent, credible verification, there is nothing before the Directorate to unequivocally verify that that these studies, or even the ingredient-specific studies provide adequate support that the product as a whole will deliver on the claims highlighted above.

For the above reasons, the Directorate cannot, at this time, accept the substantiation submitted by the respondent. Accordingly, the claims as highlighted above are currently unsubstantiated and in breach of Clause 4.1 of Section II of the Code. By implication the claims are also misleading and in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 of Section II.

In light of the above finding, the respondent is required to:

withdraw the efficacy claims highlighted above in their current format;

action the process of withdrawal of the claims with immediate effect upon receipt of the ruling;

complete the withdrawal of the claims within the deadlines stipulated by Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide; and

refrain from using these claims in their current format in future until such time as the respondent has submitted new substantiation, and the Directorate has issued a new ruling accepting the claims.

This aspect of the complaint is upheld.

Over and above the general efficacy claims, the complainant also took issue with the reference to “Dr Jacques Lotz” as a doctor, arguing that he could find no proof that this person was ever registered as a doctor.

The respondent has not commented on this, and by implication has not provided any evidence to show that the accolade or title of “Dr” is appropriately attributed to this individual.

Given the above, the reference to “Dr Jacques Lotz” is currently unsubstantiated and likely to mislead people into perceiving it to be the view of a medical doctor, which has not yet been shown to be the case. This renders the reference in breach of Clauses 4.1 and 4.2.1 of Section II of the Code.

In light of the above, the respondent is instructed to:

withdraw the reference to “Dr” from this citation

ensure that this reference is withdrawn with immediate effect upon receiving this ruling

ensure that the withdrawal of this reference is completed within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide

refrain from making such a reference until such time as it has provided adequate substantiation for this reference, and the Directorate accepts this as valid in the form of a new ruling.

This aspect of the complaint is upheld.

For the guidance of the respondent, the Directorate notes that Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide specifically allows advertisers two weeks to ensure compliance when website advertising is concerned.

The Directorate also draws attention to the provisions of Clause 15.5 of the Procedural Guide, which requires advertisers to withdraw the above-mentioned advertising and claims from ANY media in which it may appear, irrespective of whether or not such a media was specifically identified by the complainant.

2 Responses to Body2Tone Weight Loss Plan

  1. Mrs Botha 1 August, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    And I quote from above response of ASA “the respondent to furnish it with a report emanating from an independent, credible, expert to confirm and verify that the submitted documentation confirms the exact claims made in the advertisement complained of” – what is this website’s affiliation to ASA? “Dr” Harris are you not a credible independent expert in testing? This is a bit of conflicting interest! It would come across as “finding more work” or creating opportunities

  2. Harris 1 August, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    @Mrs Botha
    No, I do not do the testing nor do I refer to someone who does. I am not affiliated to anyone. I simply ask that if a manufacturer of a product mixes ingredients together, that he/she proves that they do actually work. Nothing special!

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