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HANOVER LABS TO MODIFY LIPO/trim WEIGHT LOSS CLAIMS

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

HANOVER LABS TO MODIFY LIPO/trim WEIGHT LOSS CLAIMS made in magazine advertisements for the appetite control tablets following a review by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. NAD reported May 6 that Livingston, N.J.- based Hanover Labs "agreed to reassess and modify advertising" for LIPO/trim tablets after the firm failed to substantiate "exaggerated" weight loss claims. LIPO/trim tablets contain chromium picolinate and a blend of Micro-C-Cellulose, gelatin, Uva Ursa and oat fiber. NAD asked Hanover Labs to provide evidence to support seven weight loss claims for LIPO/trim tablets, including "with the LIPO/trim eating plan, losing weight is not only easy, it's guaranteed," "it's easy," and "you'll just lose weight fast and easy," according to an NAD case report. To support most of the claims for LIPO/trim, Hanover submitted scientific articles on chromium, which is "believed to slow lean mass loss, raise the metabolic rate and bring on a faster realization of the feeling of 'fullness' to help curtail overeating by stimulating insulin action," NAD said. Hanover Labs also said LIPO/trim has been backed by a 100% guarantee and provided NAD with copies of canceled checks that were sent to customers who returned the product. Although NAD agreed that the product is guaranteed and that the cost of the product would be refunded by Hanover, the advertising watchdog group said it "did not find the weight loss claims themselves substantiated" and that the "presence of an honored money-back guarantee does not cure advertising of untruthfulness or inaccuracy of weight loss claims." Specifically, NAD said it "found no evidence to support the claim that chromium picolinate works as a 'fast and easy' method of weight control for ordinary consumers." NAD also pointed out that "there were no independent studies to show the efficacy of the combination of components of the LIPO/trim tablet." In response, Hanover Labs said: "We feel these descriptive terms are relative." NAD found "no evidence" in the materials Hanover submitted to support the claim that LIPO/trim provides "your body with the minerals and nutrients it needs to stay healthy." Hanover disagreed, citing studies that evaluate chromium's effect on stimulating "the metabolism of body fat without promoting the loss of lean muscle mass" and chromium's benefits in "lowering cholesterol." In "view of this as well as other data, we believe that chromium as the active ingredient in LIPO/trim is important to good health," Hanover maintained. NAD also took issue with Hanover's claim: "As you eat, the active ingredient is burning up calories." This statement could be interpreted to mean that, "since the product works as you eat, you may eat as much as you wish and still lose weight," NAD argued. NAD asserted that this "misinterpretation is heightened by the company's other claims," and requested that the statement be modified or discontinued. Although Hanover called NAD's conclusion "illogical," the firm said it is "considering a change in the language." In addition, NAD found fault with Hanover for not submitting any evidence, such as consumer surveys, to show that people taking LIPO/trim "won't have gnawing hunger pains." NAD recommended that the statement be modified or discontinued. Per NAD's recommendation, however, Hanover said it was "preparing a formal survey of our customers to document these claims." NAD also objected to a claim that LIPO/trim "makes it possible to lose between six and 10 pounds per week." Results from a single study reported in a Longevity article "do not substantiate the claim made in the advertisement," NAD determined. A second part of the claim, which tells consumers that they can lose weight while eating foods like fried chicken and meatballs, is "troublesome in the absence of clinical tests," NAD said. The ads do not disclose that these foods are meant to be eaten in moderation, NAD said, adding that the absence of such statements "contributes to the implication that the product will solve one's weight problems without diet or exercise." Hanover argued that "we disagree that this claim is exaggerated," adding that "based on the experience of some of our customers, weight loss in this range has been reported." Regarding statements that the foods mentioned are "part of a controlled eating plan," Hanover insisted that LIPO/trim ads "are accompanied by literature describing the eating plan. You were provided with this information. Therefore, we do not fully understand this finding of the NAD." Hanover concluded its statement by noting: "We are continually reviewing our advertising literature and will determine whether the language and claims made can be improved in conformity with the suggestions and findings made by the NAD. We will take the NAD's recommendations into account in our future advertising efforts for LIPO/trim."
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