ASA Adjudication on Nuga Best UK & Ireland
Nuga Best UK & Ireland
27 High Street
30 March 2011
Health and beauty
Number of complaints:
A leaflet, for a therapeutic couch with detachable gadgets, was titled "NUGA BEST”. Text beneath stated “BEST For Health! BEST for Beauty! BEST For Your Family! NUGA BEST NM-5000”. The cover featured a picture of the couch in a field near a couple lying under a tree. Text next to the tree stated “Just as a tree needs a strong root in order to grow properly and sustain its good health, the same concept can be applied for the well being [sic] of humans.”
Text inside the ad on a page titled “PRODUCT INFORMATION” under the heading “Low Frequency Pad for Localised Fat Control” stated “LF waves of Nuga Weight Control automatically transforms the polarities of body pathogens. The resulting effects enhance the sympathetic muscle movements, normalising nerve actions and reducing fat in local areas and in body organs.”
Text on a page titled “PRINCIPLES AND CHARACTERISTICS” under the heading “MOXIBUSTION” stated “Far Infrared Rays generated by the Tourmanium Internal Projectors double the effect of Moxibustion to bring about enhanced metabolism, relief of muscle/joint pains and improved immunity of your body.” Text under the heading “WEIGHT CONTROL” stated “Low Frequency Pad uses Auto TENS principles of health waves to control the body weight, decomposing the body fat and improves skin beauty.” Text under the heading “DEEP HEAT THERAPY” stated “Relieves pain, stiffness, inflamation [sic], and relaxes tensed nerves. Also promotes fast recovery from fatigue and increases blood flow. Text under the heading “FAR INFRARED RAYS & ANIONS” stated “the FIR and Anion therapy strengthens the immune system, increases the bloody circulation, normalises the blood, removes fatty plaque and chemicals ...”.
Text on a page titled “NUGA WEIGHT CONTROL” under the headline “Regain Your Self-Confidence with LF Weight Control Pad of NM-5000” stated “Fat Burn: When combined with a controlled diet, excessive fat can be decomposed without the yo-yo effects [sic] ... Relieve Pain from Neck, Shoulder, Back and Waist; Alleviate Numbness of Peripheral Nerves; Resilient Skin Recovery; Ease Muscle Pain and Neuralgia; Stimulate Fatigue Recovery & Blood Circulation; Passive Exercise: Nuga Weight Control is a muscle activating system using Low Frequency Therapy and can be used while sleeping. ts [sic] use during a good night’s sleep can produce the same effect as running 20~30km.” Text under the headline “Burn off Calories with Tourmanium, the Special Nano Ceramic by Nuga Best” stated “Specially developed using 4 unique stones; Tourmaline, Germanium, Volcanic Rock, Elvan Rock. Tourmanium abundantly emits Far Infrared Rays and Anions naturally, Providing its miraculous healing properties. Fat Burn: FIR increases enzime [sic] activity, metabolism and body temperature. Breaking down cellulite trapped water and fat cells. 1 hour of FIR therapy is known to burn upto [sic] 1000 calories. FIR provides deep tissue heat therapy and moxibustion effect; Anions promotes [sic] fast recovery from fatigue and exhaustion; Anions relaxes, refreshes and rejuvenates the human body; FIR and Anions improves cardiovascular system [sic] and normalises the body”.
Four pictures at the bottom of the page showed the couch and its removable components in use.
The complainant challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
1. that the product could reduce and decompose body fat;
2. that the product could break down cellulite;
3. use during a nights sleep can produce the same effect as running 20~30km";
4. that the product had "miraculous healing properties";
5. 1 hour of FIR therapy is known to burn upto [sic] 1000 calories", and
6. FIR and Anions improves the cardiovascular system".
The ASA challenged whether the following claims were misleading and could be substantiated:
7. that the product could relieve pain and inflammation;
8. Improved immunity of your body", and
9. that the product could relieve fatigue.
10. The ASA also challenged whether the ad breached the Code by implying that users of the product could lose weight without effort.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Nuga Best UK & Ireland (Nuga Best) said they were a global company with branches in over 60 countries and had over 10 million users worldwide. They said all of their products were approved by many governing bodies including the CE, FDA and ISO and this was the first time that the products functionality had been questioned. They said all of the medical principles on which the NM-5000 was based were common knowledge in the Far East and there were many other companies who produced products similar to theirs.
They said the NM-5000 was a Combinational Stimulator for Body therapy that helped to massage and refresh the body through its two functions as a Thermal Projector Massager and a Low Frequency Massager. They said its intended purposes were recovery from fatigue, improvement of blood circulation and relief of muscle pain. They said that had been confirmed by the European Governing Body and certified with a CE mark that indicated that NM-5000 was medical equipment.
1. Nuga Best provided the abstract from a study which they believed showed that aroma oil and low frequency therapy aided weight loss and reduction in waist size in adult women. They also provided an abstract from a study that they said showed that low frequency electrostimulation with aerobic exercise was much more effective than only aerobic exercise in improving body fat loss, health care and exercise capacity in obese women. They also provided a number of testimonials in support of the claim.
2. Nuga Best provided the abstracts from two studies which they believed showed that treatment with radio frequency and intense infrared light reduced the appearance of cellulite.
3. Nuga Best said metabolic rates varied from person to person and also changed over time but believed a typical kilocalorie (kcal) expenditure was 1kcal per kg per km and that the energy available from fat oxidation was 9Kcal/g. They provided the abstracts from three studies which they believed showed that treatment with a low frequency stimulating instrument reduced body weight and body fat percentage and believed that the calculations they had provided combined with the data from the first study showed that the product had the same effect as running 20-30km.
4. Nuga Best said the claim "miraculous healing properties" was not a claim that the product could perform actual miracles. They said the statement had been taken from customer testimonials and that some of the improvements experienced by their customers did seem miraculous. They said, ultimately, the claim was merely a description of the extent of the health improvements that users of the product might experience.
5. Nuga Best supplied an extract from an article that they believed supported the claim.
6. Nuga Best provided the abstracts from five studies in support of the claim.
7. Nuga Best provided the abstracts from three studies in support of the claim.
8. Nuga Best provided the abstract from three studies in support of the claim.
9. Nuga Best provided the abstract from a study and a number of testimonials in support of the claim.
10. Nuga Best said at no point did the ad state or imply that users could lose weight without effort. They said the examples of weight loss possibilities were primarily to highlight the benefits that could be obtained from the use of the NM-5000. They pointed to the testimonials they had supplied which they said showed that many of their customers had lost weight through the use of their product. They said their products were primarily designed for those with limited mobility and those with chronic pain and they therefore did not outline the need for aerobic exercise alongside the use of the product.
1.,2.,3.,5.,6.,7.,8.,& 9. Upheld
The ASA considered that the claims that the Nuga Best NM-5000 could reduce and decompose body fat, break down cellulite, produce the same effect as running 20-30km, burn up to 1000 calories, improve the cardiovascular system, relieve pain and inflammation, improve immunity and relieve fatigue were breakthrough claims that required a body of robust scientific evidence, such as clinical trials conducted on people, in order to substantiate them.
We noted the abstracts provided by Nuga Best, however we also noted that we had not seen the full studies to which those abstracts related and we did not consider that abstracts alone were sufficient to support the wide-ranging health claims in the ad. Notwithstanding that, we noted from the abstracts that all of the studies appeared to have a variety of significant flaws in their methodologies or outcomes which made them unsuitable to support the claims for the product in the ad. These included: not being double-blinded or properly controlled, not relating to the advertised product or its specific capabilities, being conducted on animals rather than people, using group sizes that were not large enough to support the claims in the ad, not using sufficiently objective criteria, using subject self-assessment to generate data, not producing statistically significant results or not having been published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals.
We also noted the CE mark certificate, Clinical Evaluation document and testimonials provided by Nuga Best, but we did not consider that those documents were capable of substantiating the health claims made in the ad.
Because we had not seen robust, scientific evidence to support the claims made about the NM-500 we concluded that the ad was misleading.
On these points, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration), 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products), 13.1, 13.4 and 13.8 (Weight control and slimming).
We considered that the claim "miraculous healing properties" would be interpreted by readers to mean that the Nuga Best NM-500 was capable of successfully treating medical conditions or their symptoms and was therefore a claim capable of objective substantiation. We noted, for the reasons given above, that we had not seen evidence to substantiate that claim and we therefore concluded that it was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.11 (Exaggeration) and 12.1 (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
We noted that the CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not give the impression that dieters could not fail or could eat as much as they liked and still lose weight. We considered that the claims "WEIGHT CONTROL ... Low Frequency Pad uses Auto TENS principles of health waves to control the body weight, decomposing the body fat", "use during a good nights sleep can produce the same effect as running 20~30km", "Burn off Calories with Tourmanium, the Special Nano Ceramic by Nuga Best" and "Fat Burn: FIR increases enzime [sic] activity, metabolism and body temperature. Breaking down cellulite trapped water and fat cells. 1 hour of FIR therapy is known to burn upto [sic] 1000 calories" would be interpreted by readers to mean that by using the machine alone they would be able to remove body fat and burn calories. Because we had not seen evidence that that was the case we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) Code rule 13.8 (Weight control and slimming).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Nuga Best to ensure they held robust substantiation for all their claims in future.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)