Anyone looking to shift the “lockdown lard” might want to take ads for the Powerfit from JML with a pinch of salt, after claims made in a 30-minute “infomercial” for the whole-body vibration device turned out to be a fat lot of use.
The ad, seen on October 1 2020, included a voiceover that described the device, how to use it and its effects on the body. It included claims such as: “Now you too could have a strong, slim and sexy body like this from the comfort of your own home with the Powerfit programme, the multi-dimensional oscillation system that engages all of your muscles from the moment you step on it […] Powerfit helps burn fat and lose weight.”
The voice-over was accompanied by scenes of people with athletic builds exercising using the Powerfit product. Later on, the ad included testimonials of users who stated that they had lost weight by using Powerfit. Scenes were repeated three times during the ad.
On-screen text appeared periodically during the ad including “Results from Powerfit 3 min training & eating program” as well as “Weight loss achieved only as part of a calorie controlled diet”.
But one viewer was not not convinced, and rifled off a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority to challenge whether the claims that Powerfit could assist with weight loss, fat burning or muscle toning were exaggerated and therefore misleading.
In response to the ASA enquiries, JML insisted that evidence showed that whole-body vibration devices could assist with weight loss, fat burning and muscle toning. It said the Powerfit product came with additional equipment – including resistance bands and a workout, dietary and recipe plan – so the product was not just the device.
JML provided a study by the European Association for the Study of Obesity, published in 2010. The efficacy of machine use was tested alongside a restricted diet and exercise, which they said demonstrated that devices could assist with fat burning and weight loss.
JML also provided the abstracts of ten studies that tested the efficacy of whole-body vibration programmes.
Meanwhile, TV ad clearing house Clearcast provided a report from an independent physiotherapist who said the claims that the programme could assist with weight-loss, fat burning and muscle toning had been substantiated.
The physiotherapist considered that when used correctly the programme, alongside a calorie restricted diet should result in muscle-toning and fat reduction. Clearcast further provided ten abstracts of studies that concluded that using whole-body vibration devices alongside a calorie reduced diet may result in weight loss and fat reduction.
But despite this body of evidence, the ASA remained unconvinced. In its ruling, the watchdog noted JML’s explanation that the Powerfit machine included an instruction manual that detailed exercises and a diet plan that consumers should follow when using the product in order to lose weight.
However, it considered that the ad’s overall emphasis, through the prominent imagery, voice-over claims and testimonials, was on the device itself rather than on its part in a combined programme of exercise and calorie restricted diet.
It added: “We therefore considered that consumers would understand from the overall impression created by the ad that the machine was the direct cause of significant rates of weight loss, fat burning and muscle toning, outside of the context of a calorie restricted diet and exercise programme. We considered that the on-screen text was not sufficient to counteract that overall impression.
“Because we considered that consumers would understand from JML’s ad that the main component in facilitating significant weight loss, fat burning and muscle toning was the Powerfit device, rather than the overall programme including the workout plan and diet, and we had not seen sufficient evidence to support that impression, we concluded that and the ad was misleading.”
Banning the ad from appearing again in its current form, the ASA warned JML to ensure its ads did not claim, including through their overall impression that using the Powerfit device alone could result in weight loss, fat burning or muscle toning.
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