A television advert that suggests losing weight will make you happier has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
Diet Chef’s advert, in which a tearful woman meets a slimmer version of her future self, was branded “irresponsible” by the regulator.
It said the message it gave about body image and the relationship between weight and happiness breached its social responsibility code.
The advert features a woman called Cheryl being told by her future, slimmer self: “You can look that good again you know.”
The former Cheryl replies: “You look amazing. I never dreamed I could be that slim again.”
Future Cheryl responds: “It feels good, why did we wait so long?” and tells her former self she can now buy bikinis again.
A tearful former Cheryl finishes by saying: “I want it, I want what you’ve got.”
Diet Chef said the advert showed the frustration of Cheryl at not having lost weight, and her surprise when she saw her future self had managed to achieve it.
The company provided a document to the ASA showing the actor who played the former Cheryl had a BMI of 27.4, which is classified as overweight.
It claimed the overall approach was typical of the “before and after” genre used in weight loss adverts, and did not believe it was exploitative of women.
The ASA received complaints from 26 viewers, with many saying the advert suggested overweight women do not take care of themselves or their appearance.
They also said it exploited women’s insecurities by implying you needed to be slim to be happy and attractive.
The regulator agreed that Cheryl’s “unhappy demeanour appeared disproportionate to concerns about her weight”.
“We considered that, overall, the ad focused disproportionately on the former Cheryl’s negative feelings about her appearance, and implied that weight loss was the only solution to her problems,” it said.
“It therefore implied that those with insecurities about their bodies, and particularly their weight, could only achieve happiness and self-confidence through weight loss.
“We therefore concluded that the ad presented a socially irresponsible approach to body image and breached the Code.”
The advert has been banned in its current form and Diet Chef told to advertise its products in a socially responsible way.
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