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Making Weight Management Supplements Sexy Without Irking the FDA

Dave Clifton

August 27, 2013

3 Min Read
Making Weight Management Supplements Sexy Without Irking the FDA

Every company wants its products to be seen as the best by consumers. This is especially true in the weight management supplement market, where a slight marketing edge may mean the difference between oodles of sales and dust collecting on your call center reps.

Customers may look for wording such as Fast-acting! or Lose all the weight you want! before opting for one product over another. But such marketing lingo also attracts unwanted attention by the Food and Drug Administration. Make a claim not approved by the FDA and trouble may come your way.

Section 403(r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires dietary supplement manufacturers making a nutritional deficiency, structure/function, or general well-being claim have substantiation that the claim is truthful and not misleading. Easy enough, right?

Heres an example off the FDA website:The labeling of a dietary supplement includes the statement promotes weight loss. The dietary supplement contains various vitamins and minerals and a botanical extract. The manufacturer relies on a randomized controlled double blind clinical study showing that subjects who took the botanical extract had a small but significant increase in metabolism over subjects taking a placebo over a 24 hour period. The study did not examine the effect of the extract on subjects' weight and there is no research showing that a short term increase in metabolism will translate into any measurable weight loss. The weight loss claim would likely not be adequately substantiated. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/DietarySupplements/ucm073200.htm 

Clear as mud, right? Simply put, making a claim that your product promotes weight loss without solid, objective, verified scientific research likely wont hold up under FDA scrutiny or a competitive lawsuit. Even with research, companies still must be careful how they claim products impact weight loss and management.

So, can you sell the steak and sizzle together? You bet. Its all about knowing your target market, understanding how to properly word marketing copy, and providing proof of efficacy and effectiveness.

Miracle Garcinia Cambogia, a natural weight management supplement, touts that Not all Garcinia Cambogia Extracts are Created Equal! It goes on to list what Top Doctors (what appears to be a cloaked reference to Dr. Oz) say are the five key criteria for a great carcinia cambogia supplements. And amazingly, Miracle Garcinia Cambogia meets them all!

(Cue cash register tings and whoops from newly skinny folk).

Nowhere does Miracle Garcinia Cambogia claim its supplement is the best or will help you lose 10 pounds in two weeks guaranteed. Instead, it uses scientific data even quoting a study used on The Dr. Oz Show and goes out of its way to say it DOESNT market using untruths and veiled claims. Smart!

The lesson here is good weight management supplement marketing can be strong, forthright, and impactful without running afoul of the FDA. Science to back up what the supplement does, along with creative and unique word spinning can make for a pretty compelling story. Savvy manufacturers also know to use words like may and could instead of will and we outright guarantee this product to be the best thing since sliced bread.

Oh, and dont forget the FDA-pleasing disclaimer:These statements (blog comments) have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product (column) is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease (bad marketing campaign). The information in this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice (common sense).

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