What is Cryotherapy?
Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) understands that cryotherapy uses a source of very cold air which is applied to specific parts of the body.
Practitioners claim that the therapy can have a range of medical and aesthetic applications and benefits, but it is most commonly used in the treatment of muscle pain and post-sports muscle recovery. The therapy is usually carried out at a clinic, but devices are sometimes sold for home use.
What claims are likely to be problematic?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and CAP have yet to see convincing evidence that cryotherapy is effective. As such, any claims that the therapy can have a therapeutic or aesthetic effect or can help with fat/weight loss would need to be supported by robust clinical trial evidence.
In 2018, the ASA considered an ad which included claims that cryotherapy was a “treatment for anyone seeking muscle recovery, injury treatment, weight loss or skin rejuvenation” alongside claims to treat specific conditions and symptoms within those treatment areas. Whilst the marketer submitted a number of clinical studies and documents to support the claims, the ASA considered that they were not sufficiently robust to support any of the claims and subsequently ruled that they were misleading (Cryojuvenate UK Ltd, 18 April 2018).
Similarly, in 2020, the ASA upheld unsubstantiated claims that a cryo-belt home device could help consumers “Lose inches in a few weeks without changing your diet or exercise, spot target areas you want to lose weight from like stomach, thighs all at home” alongside other similar claims (L(A)B Life and Beauty, 16 December 2020).
This CAP Guidance explains the types and levels of evidence the ASA and CAP are likely to expect in support of any efficacy claims for Cryotherapy.
What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sought?
Claims to diagnose or treat some medical conditions could be seen to discourage essential treatment, unless that treatment is being carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional.
In 2017 the ASA examined claims that cryotherapy was being offered at a clinic for the treatment of a number of medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, osteoporosis and migraines. The ad also claimed that the therapy could decrease depression and anxiety. Because the ASA had not seen evidence that the treatment of these conditions was being carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional, the ASA ruled that the claims were likely to discourage essential treatment (Chill WBC Ltd, 29 November 2017).
This CAP Guidance explains the risks of refencing medical conditions in ads for health, beauty and slimming products and services.
Is your product a medical device?
If marketers are selling products for home-use and are making claims in ads that the product can help treat a medical condition, the product in question may need to be classified and certified as a medical device. This CAP Advice on Medical Devices explains the position in more detail.
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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