06.Ads impression vs reality
An ad for MEDISLIM Natural Advance illustrates how ads sometimes leave an impression that’s at odds with the scientific reality.
According to its ad, “now been proven to lose excess weight and fat in an Australian clinical pilot study — and the results are outstanding”. “100% of advance subjects lost weight.” “41% more fat loss, 20% more weight loss”.
Sound good? Ready to buy a box, or even some shares in the company? Just hold on a tick.
To the company’s credit, it has at least done a study on its product and it sent us a copy of the study when we asked for evidence. But there are a few things the ad doesn’t tell you about what the scientists found:
100% of advance subjects lost weight: True, all of those taking the MEDISLIM who finished the 13-week trial lost weight. But 30 people started the trial and only 16 completed it. Only two of the dropouts were excluded from the trial early on; another five withdrew in the first four weeks due to personal circumstances; but seven “claimed that they couldn’t make the required dietary changes or were too busy”. So nearly as many people didn’t make it to the end of the diet and exercise program as the number that finished it on MEDISLIM and lost weight.
41% more fat loss, 20% more weight loss. Again, true, but how big is this really? Over the 3 months of the study, the MEDISLIM group lost only about an extra 65 grams a week. You can do a similar check on the 40% fat loss figure — it’s about 75 more grams of fat a week. And there’s no statistical analysis done to show there’s a significant difference between the two groups or whether it could be just a matter of chance. Plus, this is a ‘pilot’ study — it’s small and designed to see if it’s worth doing a large-scale trial: in itself, it doesn’t prove
At best, the ad represents a misunderstanding of the science. CHOICE has referred it to the TGA advertising complaints body — we think the ad exaggerates the findings of the trial and doesn’t give a true and balanced picture of the results. We’ll let you know.
This article last reviewed December 2005