ASA Rule Atkins not healthier

Natural Products Magazine

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld a complaint against an advertisement claiming that the Atkins diet helps people “enjoy a healthier lifestyle”. The ASA has subsequently told the advertiser, Atkins Nutritionals, to withdraw the advertisement.

The ASA acted after receiving a complaint that the Atkins diet had been criticised by doctors as being unhealthy. Atkins Nutritionals argued that the Atkins diet was a scientifically validated strategy for weight control based on controlling carbohydrate intake. The company also submitted 44 scientific studies which it believed supported its claim.

However, the ASA considered that the short-term nature of evidence supplied by the advertiser did not support the long-term claim being made. It noted that one of the scientific studies had taken place over just 22 weeks; three had taken place over a year; and the rest had taken place over a few weeks or months. The studies, concluded the ASA, were also limited in their scope, sometimes looking at weight loss only.

The authority also noted that the diet plan conflicted with current government advice on achieving a balanced diet. This states that starchy foods should make up about one-third of a person’s diet.