Cyprus Mail

CyBC slapped for ‘pushing Zone Diet on viewers’

Elita Michaelidou's show on CyBC lands in hot water

By Staff Reporter

THE Cyprus Radio and Television Authority (CRTA) has ruled against the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) for promoting a diet that it said claims to help a number of medical conditions.

According to the CRTA ruling, CyBC could be fined €16,000 in violation of the regulation stating that “audiovisual commercial communications shall be readily recognisable as such” and that “disguised audiovisual commercial communication shall be prohibited”. CyBC has 14 days to respond and justify its position to CRTA. If they do not respond, CRTA will proceed with the fine.

CRTA says it considers this a “serious offence”.

The alleged promotion came through the chat show ‘Mazi sto PIK’ with Elita Michaelidou who was interviewing six women who had had a ‘make-over’ by using the Zone Diet.

The CRTA’s ruling was based on the fact that presenter Michaelidou and her guest from ‘Zone Diet’ Panayiotos Drakopoulos, repeatedly promoted the use of the diet implying that it was effective in helping diabetes and cardiovascular conditions.

The Authority did not say it specifically has issues with the diet itself but only with the way it was being pushed on viewers with repeated claims that “if you do the Zone Diet…” it could “help with this problem or that problem”.

According to the transcript, at one point Michaelidou called it “the diet medicine/drug”, to which Drakopoulos responded: “The ‘diet drug’. Bravo. It helps all of the conditions I mentioned.”

The ruling said the interview clearly went beyond the realm of information and into advertising, by encouraging viewers to try it themselves.

“The Authority [CRTA] considers that this programme goes beyond providing information and can be considered an advertisement, taking into consideration the long duration of the segment, and its verbal informative content,” the ruling said.

“The Authority has repeatedly suggested that hidden advertising is a serious breach of legislation, and is dishonest to the viewer or listener,” it said, adding that it was even worse when the presenter of the programme was coming out with the same advertising message.

The Zone Diet was invented by by US biochemist Barry Sears. It advocates consuming calories from carbohydrates and protein in a balanced a ratio which is aimed at achieving stable blood sugar levels, hormonal balance, and low inflammation. The diet was born of Sear’s own issues with genetic heart disease having lost his father and grandfather to heart disease under the age of 50. Sears is now 66, something which is attributed to the diet plan he worked out for himself.

According to Zone Diet blurb, the diet is a food plan comprising a balanced ratio of carbohydrates (40 per cent), fat (30 per cent) and proteins (30 per cent). “For those who want to steer clear of cardiovascular sickness, diabetes and other chronic ailments, eating foods that follow recommended recipes, and staying in the Zone is a must,” the website says.

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