BoomBod, a popular line of diet drink mixes, is being tasked with explaining to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) why a testimonial suggesting that the company’s line of “weight loss shots” could help Type 1 diabetics lower their blood sugar levels appeared on its official Instagram account.
The testimonial, which accompanied a before-and-after photo of a woman and read, “I didn’t think this product would work but it really did! I feel so much better in myself. I have type one diabetes and it helped to lower my blood sugars as well!!! I was that impressed I’ve just ordered another two weeks’ worth!!!” and purported to be from a client, has since been deleted from the company’s Instagram account.
According to a statement made by a spokesman of the ASA to UK-based publication The Independent, despite being from a third party, “user testimonials” like the post in question, are considered “marketing material” once an advertiser – in this case, BoomBod – adopts it as part of their claims, thereby subjecting it to the agency’s rules.
“They would then need robust evidence to back up said claims” the ASA spokesman said, adding that the agency has received other complaints regarding the company, most of which are about “misleading weight loss and food supplement claims.”
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin – the hormone that helps cells take in glucose and convert it to energy.
There is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes, with current treatments focusing instead on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes, in order to prevent complications.
Sandy Dora, who has Type 1 diabetes and one of the people who contacted the ASA to lodge the complaint against BoomBod, said she is “horrified” at the damage that the claims could potentially cause toward vulnerable people living with the disease.
“Diabetes is a chronic and potentially fatal disease without a cure that is only controlled by insulin. Tea is not insulin. Tea will not replace the proper use of insulin to control blood sugars,” Dora said in a statement on The Independent. (Related: Low-carb diets improve blood glucose control for people with Type 1 diabetes, study reveals.)
What’s in BoomBod?
A popular line of food supplement marketed as “weight loss shots,” BoomBod is the latest product on the market that claims to facilitate weight loss in its customers through “natural” means.
According to the information presented on its official website, BoomBod owes its efficacy to the naturally occurring dietary fiber glucomannan.
Extracted from the roots of the konjac plant or “devil’s tongue,” glucomannan is noted for its ability to absorb large amounts of water and subsequently, expand. This, according to BoomBod, creates a feeling of fullness, thereby reducing an individual’s calorie intake, which then supposedly leads to noticeable weight loss after seven days. This has led to media influencers and TV celebrities such as Blac Chyna, Marnie Simpson, and Gemma Collins to promote the product on social media.
Despite the validity of some of its claims, however – soluble fiber can indeed induce feelings of satiety and fullness in individuals – BoomBod’s claim that it keeps a person “full” for “hours” is misleading, according to Dr. Sarah Jarvis, clinical director of Patient.info, in a statement sent to UK-based newspaper The Sun.
“They suggest it partly fills the stomach, leaving less room for food…to an extent, foods high in soluble fiber have this effect — although the suggestion that it sits in the stomach for hours is wrong,” Jarvis said.
Author and nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert meanwhile, debunked BoomBod’s claim that the product is “laxative-free,” noting in a statement to The Sun that because glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber, it is in fact, a “bulk-forming laxative” and that “…people may get diarrhea, flatulence and bloating as side effects.”
In her statement, Lambert added that people should “remain skeptical over any ‘miracle’ weight loss claims,” and that instead of promoting “…’diet culture,’ we should be trying to promote a healthy relationship with food. Long term sustainable weight loss is best achieved through diet and exercise and this will always trump an instant fix!”