Ethics in Dietary Supplement Advertising

Category: Healthcare Advances Written by Dr. Charles Shively / July 17, 2019

Do you always believe what you read, see or hear? With the plethora of massive social media offerings specific to a particular product, what can be trusted to be truthful and not “adjusted” by the marketing approach to steer the reader away from one product to another?

Recently while visiting with a healthcare provider during the continuing America’s Healthcare Tour ( the question of truthfulness in advertising became a lengthy discussion topic.

Specific examples of posted product reviews by competing dietary supplement providers were evaluated based upon factual and accurate comments…and more importantly…how the information was provided to cause the reader to embrace one product over another. Most readers and supplement product buyers do not typically use third party advertising review sites for large summaries of customer comments specific to particular products. They should.

For those readers and supplement product buyers who do a more thorough evaluation of the validity of the presented videos or written word about a product, a true comparative evaluation can often reveals the truth behind comments by one competitor about another competitive product and the true intent of the advertising. Why? Often times the advertising approach is “slanted” and designed to leave a favorable impression toward one product (owned by the “reviewing” product manufacturer or distributor) which is actually inferior to another competitive product.

If a consumer wishes to get an unbiased assessment of any dietary supplement product, they should use third party reviews presented on many different review websites other than the site which is advertising a product being marketed.

An approach to developing confidence in ethical advertising about any dietary supplement weight loss product should include:

Step 1. Visiting at least five different review sites and research a product of interest. (Various review sites are listed below).

Step 2. Write down key comments offered about both positive and negative aspects regarding claims accuracy, successful use, nutritional aspects, customer service, quality commitment by the product distributor and commitment to FDA guidelines for product labeling and manufacture.

Step 3. Visit the official product website and contrast the information written down from review sites about the product to determine if it demonstrates ethical and truthful presentation of information about the product.

One example of a deceptive marketing approach for a supplement weight loss product is the recent social media posting by Dietspotlight LLC and its “researched review” of three competitive powder weight loss products, Herbalife,, Optavia,, and Almased, Using an essentially valid discussion about weight loss (delivered by a paid user of the Dietspotlight product), the comments offered taught the video viewer to ignore the written comments about the proposed products being reviewed and instead respond to opportunities to learn more about the Spotlight product (rather than focus on the intended review of the competitive products (Herbalife, Optavia and Almased).

As the healthcare individual this author was interviewing suggested, “This is nothing but slick advertising. It is a scam to catch individuals for expensive monthly billings after the sample is requested and not provide a review of the products as advertised.” This begs the question: Where does ethics and business meet in truthful dietary supplement advertising?

If a consumer wishes to get an unbiased assessment of any dietary supplement product, they should use a third party review as presented on many different review websites other than the advertising product being marketed. Here are various sites that can be accessed for reviews about most dietary supplement weight loss products:

Ethical marketing and advertising in the dietary supplement industry does exist. However, the reader or consumer must ensure they “do not just believe what they hear or read or see”. They must be confident that the information is valid.

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Thank for sharing!

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