This section should be read in conjunction with the entry on Health: Therapies (General)
- What is Nutritional Therapy?
Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) understands that Nutritional Therapists utilise a range of approaches, tailored to the individual, with the aim of promoting and optimising physical health. This may include, for example, diet and lifestyle modification, supplement recommendation and improving awareness of environmental factors which may impact on overall health and wellbeing.
- What claims are likely to be acceptable?
Claims that Nutritional Therapy can have a positive overall impact on health and wellbeing are likely to be acceptable.
Additionally, claims that Nutritional Therapy could assist those seeking to better manage their weight, for example, or devise a diet more suitable for an active or sporting lifestyle are likely to be acceptable.
- What claims are likely to be a problem?
Whilst it is accepted that good nutritional advice can help support a healthier lifestyle, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and CAP have yet to see evidence that Nutritional Therapy can be used to treat or prevent disease or medical conditions. Marketers making such claims would need to ensure they hold robust clinical evidence.
Marketers of various products and complementary therapies have tried in the past to establish that the human body accumulates toxins that can be purged. CAP and the ASA understand the body’s liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials, including metabolic wastes. In 2011, the ASA upheld a complaint against claims that Nutritional Therapy could remove toxins and increase cellular energy because the advertiser was unable to substantiate the claims (Optimum Health UK, 19 October 2011).
To date, neither CAP nor the ASA have seen evidence that additional supplementation or a diet change over and above a healthy balanced diet can result in ‘detoxification’ with subsequent relief or prevention of illness. In light of this we would advise that Nutritional Therapists avoid making claims for detoxification, particularly in the removal of waste from the body’s systems through the inclusion or exclusion of specific foods in the diet.
This Guidance Note explains the types and levels of evidence the ASA and CAP would expect to see to support claims about Nutritional Therapy (and other therapies).
- What about conditions for which medical supervision should be sort?
Claims to treat conditions for which medical supervision should be sort could be seen to discourage essential medical treatment, unless that treatment is being carried out under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional.
Conditions that the ASA and CAP consider would require medical supervision are non-exhaustive but include anaemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility, gastric ulcers, metabolic diseases and obesity. This CAP Guidance note explains the position in more detail.
- What about professional titles?
Nutritional Therapists should not confuse consumers between their therapy and those of a “Dietician” or “Dietitian” registered with the Health & Care Professions Council. CAP understands that “dietician” and “dietitian” are protected terms.
- What about food supplements?
Nutritional Therapists should take care when advertising food supplements that they comply with the rules on health and nutrition claims made on food which are set out in Section 15 of the CAP Code. For example, ads for food supplements must not state or imply that a balanced or varied diet does not provide appropriate quantities of nutrients in general. Individuals should not be encouraged to swap a healthy diet for supplementation, and without well-established proof, no marketing communication may suggest that a widespread vitamin or mineral deficiency exists.
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 Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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