Iyurved’s choco-laced claims of addressing speech delay, hyperactivity are dubious, say experts

Iyurved is offering chocolate spreads to boost brain, memory, and address speech delay and hyperactivity in children.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Apr 25, 2024 | 1:31 PMUpdatedApr 25, 2024 | 4:17 PM

Iyurved products.

The world is fast, competitive, and cruel. Each parent wants his/her child to excel in the world, much more than their peers.

Logical thinking is lost in the mad race — especially if the speech is delayed in the child or s/he is hyperactive.

Often children face the ‘burnt’ of their parents’ competitive mindset, forced to set aside their interests, and even inadvertently compromise on their well-being to meet the expectations of their families.

No one knows the reality better than advertisers, who peddle products with tall claims to lighten the parents’ pockets so that they can laugh all the way to the bank.

Also Read: White petroleum jelly and misleading medicines seized in Telangana

Playing with emotions

They play with the hopes and expectations of the credulous lot. The world, hopes and expectations revolve around their children for Indian parents.

Advertisers know that parents would walk the extra mile for their children. Any convincing promise that would help children would be grabbed with both hands.

One such promise is a brain-booster chocolate spread for children with speech delay! Study-booster chocolate spread for kids and teens, is another.

The sugar-coated promises continued: A hyperactive child or teen could be pacified with this product, or a choco-spread could make the child sleep well.


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Also Read: Celebrities endorsing unhealthy products face the ire of parents, docs

The choco promise

Iyurved Consumer Private Limited, a fortified food company, has several such products claiming to “address the health-concerns in kids”.

The firm’s claims have left doctors and experts fuming. They felt the Iyurved products which purportedly contain an array of beneficial ingredients such as herbs, natural enzymes, plant proteins, natural probiotics, and beta carotene, required a closer examination.

The idea that a chocolate spread could significantly boost brain function, aid in speech delay or modify behaviors like hyperactivity is not only scientifically dubious but also potentially misleading for parents seeking the best for their children, they opined.

The issue becomes even more concerning in light of the Supreme Court’s recent call to action to address misleading advertisements.

Also Read: WHO urges countries to protect kids from impact of food marketing

‘Misleading information’

Paediatrician Dr Arun Gupta, Convenor of Nutritional Advocacy for Public Interest, did not mince words when he demanded strong marketing regulations.

“This is exploiting parents and their vulnerabilities,” the former member of the Prime Minister’s on India’s Nutrition Challenges, said.

“I am astonished to see neutraceuticals targeting kids are being marketed so aggressively on the internet and some are high sugar! I believe only a strong marketing regulation covering all mediums promoting unhealthy, high-sugar, sodium fat remedies can solve this mammoth issue of misleading misinformation,” he opined.

Iyurveda, founded by Vandita Tewari Kapoor, has 32.4k followers on Instagram. The Insta page promotes several products, from those helping stammering adults to feel confident to ‘Brain Chocolate Spread’, ayurvedic herbs for speech delay, enhanced focus, aggression, and memory.

Also Read: After Patanjali, FMCG companies blip on Supreme Court radar

No guarantee

The products have caught the parents’ fancy, the responses on Instagram revealed. “Nearly 150 to 160 of the responses asked about speech delay in their families and the efficacy of the product,” a senior doctor who did not wished to be named, said.

He pointed out a specific question and the response to it: “My brother is 10, but not speaking but doctor said he has voice but his brain power is little slow.”

The reply: “Yes. It helps. 1,00,000+ kids have tried and have noticed benefits in speech, eye contact, memory, focus, attention, etc. Use for 4-5 months regularly to notice good benefits.”

It is not known if the sibling, worried about the brother, purchased the product.

Iyurved, however, has a disclaimer, despite vouching that more than one lakh children have benefitted by its products.

Also Read: SC raps Patanjali’s ‘stamp-sized’ apology for smear campaign

Doctors question tall claims

Expressing serious concern over the trend, Dr Preeti M Galgali, consultant Paediatrician and adolescent health specialist, said most cases of speech delay is related to impaired hearing.

“If people are getting carried away and not consulting a doctor, it could cause harm to the child,” she said. “It could lead to serious problem and the child may not even speak at all,” she explained.


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Why speech delay?

Another reason for the speech delay could be autism or due to intellectual disability or even child abuse. Dr Galgali expressed fear that parents might ignore such crucial aspects and instead depend on spurious products.

Iyurveda carried a disclaimer, saying, “The product is not a medicine to treat or cure any illness”.

Doctors questioned the disclaimed display. The claims were made in larger, attention-grabbing fonts, while the disclaimer was in smaller fonts, which many won’t notice.

Dr Galgali said the product sold to make a hyperactive child less hyper could be a sugar-based one.

“The reason for kids’ hyper-activeness, in many cases, is due to the sugar and preservatives they consume. We recommend a diet without sugar or preservatives for such hyperactive children,” she said.

Also Read: ‘Did it in excitement,’ Ramdev on Patanjali ads

Take sweet claims with a pinch of salt

Founder chairperson of NCD Prevention Academy Rekha Harish told South First that all children with speech issues should undergo medical evaluation, especially if the child does not start to babble by nine months or doesn’t speak a word by 15 months, or the caregivers are unable to comprehend the speech by two years.

“A complete evaluation decides the line of management. Parents are advised to refrain from medicating their babies with products advertised in any form without consulting the pediatricians,” she said.


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Jaipur-based Paediatrician Dr Alok Gupta responded to Dr Nupur Bidla, who flagged these advertisements on X. He alerted the health department, FSSAI and the Indian Medical Association.

“Please be informed that such products are harmful to the health of people of all ages and specifically children. To give such products to sick children is even more harmful. The government agencies are directly responsible for any untoward health effects,” he said.

‘False claims’

Meanwhile, Palak Bhudhiraja, a special educator and mental health professional told South First that she was intrigued by the advertising reels on Instagram.

“They claimed to be natural and devoid of artificial sweeteners. However, on checking in detail and consulting nutritionists it was clear that such claims were false,” she said.

“Even in its natural form, excessive sweet is bad. Also, for children with special needs, it could be a fatal trap. Parents rely on these easy-to-consume supplements and forget the lasting outcomes of such products. Hence, I do not endorse these at all, no matter how attractive and healthy they claim to be,” she added.

Experts said terms like “brain veggies” and “dal power” used in conjunction with tall claims amounts to false advertising. There is a significant difference between a balanced diet that supports overall health and claiming that specific foods can target and enhance brain function in the way these products suggest.

Also Read: Children of women with obesity, diabetes more likely to have ADHD: Study

Worrying trend

Raising concern over these advertisements, Dr Nupur Bidla (PhD), National Coordinator of Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India and member of NAPI told South First that “My concern is this product is making blatant health claim to improve speech in children. Vulnerable parents might get allured by such claims.”

She said there is no mention of a clinical study supporting it and who funded it. Also, it is high sugar product targeting kids and teens.

The sugar content in one serving of 20 grams is 6.26 grams, and the product is recommended to be consumed for six months by the brand.

WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake for both adults and children.

Bidla also questioned the source of the sugar and absence of a mention of preservatives. Doctors advised parents and guardians to remain skeptical of such claims and to consult healthcare professionals before incorporating such products into their children’s diets.

“It is crucial to rely on proven, scientific methods for education and healthcare rather than being swayed by the allure of a quick fix, especially when it comes to the development of young minds and bodies,” Dr Galgali added.

Also Read: Challenges and joy of parenting an autistic child

What are the regulatory bodies?

The responsibility lies with regulatory bodies to enforce stringent advertising standards to protect consumers, particularly vulnerable groups like children, from potentially misleading claims.

Without rigorous testing and validation, products like these should be questioned and scrutinised, not just by legal authorities but also by each consumer.

India claims to have several laws under which such false claims and misleading advertisements can be punished, but experts opined that “we continue to be weak in regulation and the industry seems to be loving it”.

Dr Arun, wondered why The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992, is not being strictly implemented.

“It’s time for a more informed approach to consumer health products, where transparency and honesty override the enticing lure of markets,” he said.

Interestingly, India has robust laws against false or misleading claims about products targeting children under the age of two.

South First made multiple attempts to contact Iyurved Founder and CEO Vandita Tewari Kapoor. She has not responded till the time of publishing this report.

The reported will be updated if and when Iyurved responds.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).