Spotlight on: Weight loss and dieting advertisements

Jan 17th '22

The start of a new year can be a time for setting resolutions and goals. Kiwis report that losing weight and improving fitness are on the top of their resolution lists, so it’s no surprise the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) often see promotions for health programmes or products, gym discounts, and new lifestyle kicks around this time.


Advertisements that promote weight management products or programmes need to observe a high standard of social responsibility. Below are five things that advertisers need to avoid when making claims about weight loss or diets:


  • Promoting a diet plan with very little calories or one that is not well-balanced: It’s important that advertisers don’t imply or suggest that consumers follow a diet which is not nutritionally well-balanced or include a plan or process that has, or is likely to have, an energy intake less than that recommended by an authoritative dietary expert.
  • Failing to acknowledge that nutrition and exercise are major elements in an individual’s weight management: To ensure a high standard of social responsibility, advertisers are required to include a reference for consumers to also have a balanced, healthy diet and regular exercise in their weight management. You can view the Therapeutic and Health Advertising Code for some suitable statements to use.
  • Promoting unrealistic, rapid, or unsafe weight loss outcomes: Advertisers need to ensure that what they are promoting and the claims they are using in their ads meet the high standard of social responsibility required.
  • Suggesting it’s desirable to be underweight in any way: Advertisers also need to take care that the models, actors, or case-studies they use are not underweight and have a generally accepted weight to height ratio and body-mass index.
  • Targeting children and young people under 18 or recommending weight loss during pregnancy.


For more details and other areas to consider if advertising in this area, or if you have concerns about ads you have seen – find out more here.


Source: NZ ASA


About the New Zealand ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an organisation that investigates breaches of advertising standards in New Zealand. The ASA provides a free complaints process for consumers about the content and placement of advertisements. In assessing complaints, the ASA apply the ASA Advertising Codes.


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