Watchdog takes action against miracle weight-loss artichoke ads

Andalusian TV spots targeted for fraud by region’s audiovisual council also include Dr Ming’s Chinese tea

An image from a banned ad for Dr Ming's tea, as shown on Onda Luz Cádiz.
An image from a banned ad for Dr Ming's tea, as shown on Onda Luz Cádiz.

The sale of miracle products and TV fortune-telling slots have become big business for broadcasters. On some channels they account for 70 percent of revenue. Now, though, the Andalusia Audiovisual Council (CAA) has examined the content of the stations that broadcast in the region and taken action.

The watchdog has referred the clairvoyance programs, which are often shown at times when children are watching, to the public prosecutor, and also acted against a number of commercials that promise incredible weight loss. Although the law prohibits networks from broadcasting adverts for products with alleged health benefits, so-called miracle products predicting rapid weight loss are a staple on TV screens. On Andalusian stations' ads for "Dr Ming's Chinese tea" and artichoke-based supplements predict purifying and detoxifying effects that will help you eliminate fat around the waist and lose up to three kilos in a week.

But the CAA regards these wonder diets as simply illegal advertising. What's more, it says, they are also being shown before the watershed (10pm) when it is forbidden to broadcast commercials promoting body worship, such as those for weight-loss products, cosmetic surgical procedures and other beauty treatments.

The organization has ordered local TV station Onda Luz Cádiz to withdraw the Chinese tea ads as illegal advertising, a practice that carries a fine of between 100,000 and 500,000 euros. "The television commercials analyzed present Dr Ming's Chinese tea as a product with alleged health benefits or a miracle product, the advertising of which is banned by our legal system," says the CAA, which also considers the adverts deceitful. "At 10 days you start to notice you are losing weight, but at 20 days you've already had to change your size," says a voiceover during the broadcast. The CAA has also referred the case to the health authorities.

The benefits of the Alcachofa de Laón artichoke product have also been called into question. The advertisement broadcast by Canal Sur attributes slimming properties to the vegetable, which could constitute consumer fraud.

"Imagine losing up to three kilos a week," says the commercial, according to which a nutritional study demonstrated that this unique vegetable helps to assist the loss of fat and satisfy hunger. In the board's view, such statements could make consumers believe that the effectiveness of the product was "technically or scientifically corroborated." At the same time, the CAA also considers the ad sexist as it makes "intensive and almost exclusive use of images of women."

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