A COMPLAINT about misleading advertising for a body health scanner at Castle Place Leisure Centre in Trowbridge has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Trowbridge resident Dr Stuart Farrimond saw the advert for a BioPhotonic scanner consultation during a recent visit to the leisure centre.

He found that the poster for the scanner, entitled “How healthy are you”, made unfounded health claims, such as suggesting that the scan results from the £15 consultation could be used to help lower the risk of a number of diseases.

Manufactured by American firm Nu Skin, the scanner measures levels of carotenoids in the skin, substances found in many fruit and vegetables. Their presence can act as a marker for the amount of fruit and veg a person consumes.

“There is a growing consensus within the scientific community that use of this scanner for health purposes is little more than a money-making scam,” said Dr Farrimond, who writes a regular health column for the Wiltshire Times.

“The key claim that awareness of ‘antioxidants’, specifically carotenoids, can be used to lower the risk of a host of chronic diseases is not accurate. It is true that a regular intake and fruit and vegetables is correlated with long term health, but not ‘antioxidants’.

“It used to be widely assumed that antioxidants were responsible for the health benefits associated with high fruit and vegetable intake, but recent research has shown this to be an erroneous assumption.

“Too many antioxidants, such as those taken in tablet form, can actually act to undermine the body’s immune system. I also note that Nu Skin is a multi-level marketing company specialising in nutritional supplements and has been investigated for making false claims in the past.”

The flyers and poster suggested that the scan results could be used to help lower the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, arthritis, ageing, cataracts, nervous and immune system disorders and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Farrimond contacted the manager of the leisure centre, which is managed by Places for People on behalf of Wiltshire Council, to let him know that the claims were unsubstantiated, before complaining to the ASA.

“I have received a notification from the ASA that the complaint I made about misleading advertising has been upheld and that Nu Skin has assured the ASA that it will be withdrawn,” said Dr Farrimond.

“It is important that people realise that adverts like this are essentially money-making schemes. We are seeing more and more of these body scanners around the country and almost all of them are misleading.”

A statement from Castle Place Leisure Centre said: “An external company hired the facility. Having received the marketing, the company realised the wording was incorrect at site so removed it immediately. The external company would like to apologise for any confusion and there are no future bookings planned.

"Castle Place believes passionately in the value of good health and works with a number of agencies to provide advice and support to the community to provide interventions that reduce chronic diseases of which this is just one alternative."

Information about the complaint was published on the ASA website at www.asa.org.uk