Sunday, 20 June 2010

Betterware (part 2) - more magnetic mayhem


I've recently found myself complaining about the same old companies again and again.


This attractive item is from the latest Betterware catalogue (available here and here).


My previous ASA complaint challenged a "Magnetic Therapy Bracelet". This one challenges the claims Betterware make about their magnetic wrist, knee and back supports.

"I write to complain about three items advertised in the Betterware catalogue (Issue 5/10, p52-53).

The items contain magnets which, the catalogue claims, may have therapeutic benefits.

I suspect that the catalogue may be in breach of four sections of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code. I can provide an original copy of the catalogue by post, if required.

1. In April 2010, I submitted a complaint about a similar, but different, item in an earlier Betterware catalogue. The item is not advertised in the Betterware Catalogue which is the subject of this complaint.

2. A 2008 systematic review of magnetic therapy[1] found no evidence of an effect on pain relief, with the possible exception of
sufferers of osteoarthritis:

"Overall, the data suggested no significant effects of static magnets for pain relief relative to non-magnetic placebo. Peripheral joint osteoarthritis was the one condition for which the evidence appeared encouraging. For all other conditions, there was no convincing evidence to suggest that static magnets might be effective for pain relief."

3. A 2009 study[2], focusing on magnetic therapy and osteoarthritis, found no evidence for its efficacy:

"Our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects. However such devices have no major adverse effects and may provide hope."

4. The ASA council has in the past upheld complaints about magnetic therapy products [3][4][5].

5. On page 52 of the catalogue, a "Magnetic Back Support" is advertised. On page 53, a "Magnetic wrist support" and a "Magnetic Knee Support" are advertised.

6. Under Sections 3.1 and 50.1 of the CAP Code, I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence to prove the following claims, and I challenge whether the claims are backed by evidence, where appropriate consisting of trials conducted on people:

(i) In the "Magnetic Back Support", the claim that "Magnets in the lumbar and spinal areas may also help ease pain"
(ii) In the "Magnetic Knee Support", the claim that "This...knee support contains magnets, which may help ease pain"

7. The Gauss is the CGS unit for magnetic fields. A typical fridge magnet has a magnetic field of 50 Gauss.

8. Under Section 7.1, I challenge whether the statement that the "Magnetic wrist support" has a "Magnetic strength [that] equals 50 gauss" misleadingly implies that magnets have therapeutic benefits and that stronger magnets have greater therapeutic benefits than weaker ones.

9. For the same reason, under Section 6.1 I challenge whether the statement that the "Magnetic wrist support" has a "Magnetic strength [that] equals 50 gauss" is likely to "exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience of consumers".

10. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser or with the home-delivery and alternative medicine industries in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser.

Footnotes:
[1] http://beta.medicinescomplete.com/journals/fact/current/fact1301a05t01.htm
[2] http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/yctim/article/S0965-2299%2809%2900056-9/abstract
[3] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2008/5/John-Lewis-Partnership-plc/TF_ADJ_44475.aspx
[4] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2009/8/Easylife-Group-Ltd/TF_ADJ_46827.aspx
[5] http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints-and-ASA-action/Adjudications/2009/8/Kingstown-Associates-Ltd/TF_ADJ_46697.aspx
"

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