The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Harson Holdings discontinue all challenged claims for the Okappa Slim dietary-supplement, weight-loss product.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims for the product as part of its ongoing monitoring program and in conjunction with NAD’s initiative with the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an initiative designed to expand NAD’s review of advertising claims for dietary supplements.
NAD reviewed claims that appeared in print and Internet advertising. Claims at issue in NAD’s inquiry included:
– “Here’s how I lost 33 pounds in little more than 1 month without exercise and I ate whatever I wanted!”
– “She told me she had lost 33 pounds in just under a month. She didn’t have to follow a diet and really didn’t have to do anything in particular. All she did was take her plant extract capsules every day for one month. That’s all.”
– “All I had to do was to take one capsule a day. That’s all! No effort, or diet restrictions. And after just 3 days, I had already lost 7 pounds!”
– “I was losing 2 pounds a day! After 2 weeks I had lost 22 pounds and in 1 month I was 33 pounds lighter.”
– “More than 6 months has gone by and I haven’t put any weight back on at all, and I’ve never been happier.”
– “A group of researchers have succeeded, after numerous tests carried out in laboratories and after years of study, to find the perfect combination of plants that reverse the effect of calories. Instead of transforming calories into fat, this blend makes sure that it’s being burned naturally and transformed into energy, eliminating the calories. The combination of plants is known as the Okappa Slimming treatment and causes the fastest loss of weight ever seen with a 100% natural treatment.”
– “In fact, in nearly every case we have seen and in our studies, we have found weight losses of up to 14 pounds in a week. The average loss of weight has been about 7 pounds per week.”
– “With this treatment, you are guaranteed not to put weight back on, because your metabolism will be changed so that it’s the same as those people who can eat all they want without putting on weight.”
Initially, the advertiser declined to participate in an NAD review of the advertising claims at issue, and the advertising was referred to the Federal Trade Commission for further review. Subsequent to the referral, the advertiser contacted NAD and represented that it had reconsidered and did want to participate in the NAD process. Consequently, NAD re-opened the matter.
In its substantive response submitted after the matter was re-opened, the advertiser explained that Okappa Slim is a dietary supplement that contains several natural ingredients, all of which it argued, have been shown to suppress appetite, and in turn result in weight loss. Ingredients include garcinia, green tea, Guarana, dandelion and uva ursi.
The advertiser maintained that research on both humans and animals have shown that these ingredients are effective at suppressing appetite, and that it is well-established that if appetite is suppressed, there is reduced food intake, resulting in a natural weight loss without the need to count calories or follow any specific diet.
Following its review of the evidence submitted on the ingredients in Okappa Slim, NAD noted that only one ingredient, Garcinia Cambogia, has been studied for its appetite-suppressant effect. NAD noted that green tea and Guarana have been shown to boost metabolism and, in turn, provide some weight loss benefits and dandelion and uva ursi have been studied as diuretics. None of the four, NAD noted, have been studied as appetite suppressants.
Further, NAD determined that the dosage amount of Garcinia Cambogia in Okappa Slim is insufficient to support even a qualified appetite suppression ingredient claim and the amounts of green tea or guarana in the product are insufficient to support limited ingredient claims for either ingredient. Finally, NAD determined that, as there are no studies that could support any claims for the benefits of either dandelion or uva ursi, the advertiser could not support any ingredient claims for either of those ingredients.
Harson, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is “disappointed that NAD did not agree that the research cited was adequate to support the specific weight-loss claims in the advertising. Because Harson believes in the self-regulatory system, it will follow NAD’s decision and modify its future advertising accordingly.”
NAD's inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. Details of the initial inquiry, NAD's decision, and the advertiser's response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971. NARC establishes the policies and procedures for the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the CBBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).
The NARC Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.
NAD, CARU and ERSP are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. NARB, the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate NAD/CARU cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s primary source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. ERSP’s funding is derived from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising industry self-regulation, please visit: