The ASA this week upheld a complaint against Vitabiotics Ltd. It concerned some posters for Neurozan plus, which Vitabiotics claimed helps ‘maintain brain function and performance’ and provides ‘NUTRIENTS FOR THE BRAIN’. The product was ‘designed to help keep you at your razor sharp best’ and ‘includes the specific B vitamins reported in ground-breaking research’. Nutrisciences blogged the story in more detail here.
In summary, Vitabiotics did have some evidence to back up their claims – but it was from a trial of over 70s who already had Mild Cognitive Impairment. The ASA concluded that the study was ‘unsuitable to support claims likely to be understood as referring to the normal, healthy adult population’.
I am sure there are lots more similar examples out there – where ‘scientific evidence’ from studies with strict selection criteria (eg over 70s with MCI) is used to market supplements to a much wider public, namely the ‘normal, healthy adult population’. This adjudication shows that it is worth complaining about them.
EDIT: Since adding this post, I have read here that of seven complaints against Vitabiotics since March 2007, five were upheld (one of these only partly), one was not upheld and one was informally resolved. I think it would also be interesting to check adjudications against similar companies.