A new judgment today from the Advertising Standards Authority .
A direct mailing for books by Patrick Holford, a nutritionist, contained a booklet entitled “100%health”. Headline text stated “You don’t swallow junk food. Why swallow junk health advice?” Text in a letter from the “Editor of 100%health”, Patrick Holford, on an inner page of the booklet stated
“I would like you and your family to stay healthy, free of pain and the need for drugs. But if I told you the truth in this letter, I would break the law … I’d love to tell you how powerful nutrition is, both for your mind and body. But I can’t. Why? Because advertising law prohibits me saying anything that claims to ‘treat, prevent or cure’ any condition! Even if there’s undisputed proof that nutrient ‘x’ cures condition ‘y’ I’m not allowed to tell you here. By law, I can tell you in my newsletters, but I can’t in this publication … So, excuse me if you have to read between the lines …”.
The ASA upheld a complaint against this passage
” the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness), 50.1 (Health & beauty products and therapies – General) and 50.20 (Health & beauty products and therapies – Vitamins, minerals and other food supplements). “
Text on a separate page stated “Don’t waste your money on vitamins Myth: ‘If you eat a balanced diet you get all the vitamins and minerals you need.’ WRONG!”. The ASA upheld a complaint against this passage too.
the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.21 (Health & beauty products and therapies – Vitamins, minerals and other food supplements).
The code for “truthfulness” reads thus
7.1 No marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
What a pity that Mr Holford has been judged not to live up to this criterion.
This was not a first offence either. In 2003 four complaints to the ASA about Holford were all upheld, as pointed out in the comment by Shinga, below.
Read more at badscience.net
And at quackometer
“What a pity that Mr Holford has been judged not to live up to this criterion.”
A pity, but not a surprise.
Good. And don’t get me started on the Vitamin C/AZT statements of his. We support an AIDS orphanage in rural Zambia, in memory of a family member who died. The people we are trying to help work desperately hard to get medication to very sick and poor people – and trying to counter the kind of malign nonsense described here: http://www.citizen.co.za/index/article.aspx?pDesc=40345,1,22
So they need the idea to spread that Vitamin C is more powerful than AIDS drugs like they need a hole in the head.
Irritatingly, it doesn’t seem as if Prof Holford of Teesside University is as fast a learner as one might wish for one who has such a high-profile academic appointment. A commenter directed me to an earlier (and equally robust) ASA adjudication against Holford and Associates in 2003.
Hm, are we allowed to comment on this?
I guess it is OK to say that Patrick has been ‘untruthful’. To say that he was lying would be different though as this implies a motive. I guess we just have to have our own opinions as to whether the untruthfulness was deliberate or not.
Is it ok to suggest a trend – then, perhaps, to ascribe a motive?
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