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Weight Watchers rapped by ad regulator over 'not a diet' claim

By Nigel Praities

A GP has won a victory over a ‘misleading' weight loss advertising campaign, after her complaint was upheld by the regulator.

The Advertising Standards Authority has told Weight Watchers to suspend an advertisement broadcast on local radio after it claimed its eating plans were not diets.

Dr Natheera Indrasenan, a GP in Enfield, Middlesex, said the claim ‘Stop diets, start Weight Watchers' was not correct as the eating plan restricted intake of food and was therefore a diet.

The ASA said the advertisement breached the Advertising Standards Code and was misleading. It ruled the advertisement could not be broadcast in its current form.

‘While we understood from Weight Watchers that their approach allowed followers to eat the food they enjoyed, albeit in certain quantities, we considered that, in order to lose weight, dieters could not "eat everything" as the ad claimed.

'Weight Watchers required followers to restrict their food intake in the way that they would on any other weight loss diet. We therefore concluded that the claim "Stop Diets. Start Weight Watchers" could mislead,' the judgment reads.

Dr Indrasenan said she had been driven to make the complaint because she thought Weight Watchers should not be positioning itself as not a diet.

‘A lot of the obese patients we see in surgery are vulnerable patients. They have lost control over many factors in their lives and have many problems and I just felt it was our job as GPs to protect our patients,' she said.

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a GP's claim against a WeightWatchers ad which said 'stop dieting, start WeightWatchers'

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