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89/07 22 June 2007
The OFT has received assurances from a United States based company that they will no longer distribute mailings advertising weight loss treatment to UK consumers.
Kirkwood Advertising LLC described their SlimBall product as a 'surgery free gastric balloon' and the 'No.1 weight loss treatment that's beating obesity in the USA'. The potentially misleading mailings, sent to more than 120,000 UK households, states that a SlimBall plant-based 'bio-granule' taken 15 minutes before a meal swells the stomach by up to fifty times its original size and suppresses users' appetites, ensuring safe and fast weight loss. More than 4,000 UK consumers placed orders for the treatments, which cost up to £45.
The OFT contacted Kirkwood Advertising LLC to express concerns over the potentially misleading claims and requested substantiation for these claims. Although the company responded by stating that the concept of SlimBall was based on reports received from 'a laboratory' and there existed 'hundreds of scientific and medical reports' on the Internet about the beneficial effects of some of the ingredients of the SlimBall bio-granules, they provided no proper evidence to back up their claims. The company confirmed that they would never again disseminate the mailing to UK consumers.
The OFT's Assistant Chief Executive of Consumer Advice and Trading Standards, Christine Wade, said:
'Lots of people are looking for an easy way to lose weight. Sadly mailings that promise quick fixes rarely deliver.'
Consumers who are unsure about claims made in mailings offering easy weight loss 'treatments' or 'health cures' should contact Consumer Direct for clear, practical advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit the Consumer Direct web site before they part with any money.
1. Research commissioned by the OFT involving 11,200 interviews found that an estimated 200,000 UK consumers fall victim to misleading miracle health and slimming cure claims every year, losing around £20 million.
2. Consumer Direct is a telephone and online consumer advice service funded by government and managed by the Office of Fair Trading. It offers clear, practical and impartial advice and information about consumer rights.
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