Danone’s yogurt drink Actimel claimed that it gave health benefits due to the presence of healthy bacteria and made children healthier. The Advertising Standards Authority has banned Danone for advertising the product in this manner as there is no scientific evidence to back this claim that children that drink Actimel experience improved health and wellbeing.
The idea of healthy bacteria improving digestion and potentially reducing IBS and other stomach disorders is something that many yogurt brands have been exploiting in recent years. However, the fact is that this appears to be another scam, the yogurt drinks do not help.
In the advert in question Danone claimed that the health benefits to children that drink Actimel were scientifically proven. Then televised advert used the sound of children playing and enjoying themselves while making this claim, which is a powerful psychological force in help parents make the decision to buy the product. The actual results of the study are quite alarming. 23 people in a study group of 6,000 across different age ranges had shown health benefits after drinking Actimel, and only 8 of these subjects were children up to 16-years-old. Bearing in mind people’s health can improve at anytime for various reasons, 23/1000 is a pretty poor statistic to use to claim that the health benefits of Actimel yogurt drink are “scientifically proven”.
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded the advert must be banned as it broke rules for being misleading, rules relating to evidence and accuracy in food advertising.
Danone said that they were disappointed in the decision, and made the following statement:
”Our scientific claims are sound and based on a large body of evidence. These studies are designed and approved by a board of internationally recognized experts with extensive, directly relevant experience in human clinical trials, the effects of probiotics in the gut, paediatrics and immunology.”