Like those in many other advertising campaigns, claims by Dannon, the manufacturer of Activia Yogurt, have been tested by thousands of consumers as well as doctors, medical groups, hospitals and lawyers. A number of buyers and consumers of Activia are satisfied that the product has either ended or relieved their digestive complaints, but others have protested enough to cause the Federal Trade Commission to limit Dannon's claims.
Dannon's line of yogurt products called Activia have been widely advertised on television and radio, as well as in newspapers and magazines. The same or similar yogurt products are sold and advertised in Canada. The manufacturer says specifically that ingesting the yogurt daily for two weeks will clear common digestive problems such as constipation, gas and bloating. A number of enthusiastic spokespeople have lent their prestige to the product's claims.
Activia is a high bacteria count fermented dairy product containing "probiotics," or live, healthy digestive bacteria. Such ingredients are touted as the best, most natural way to solve common problems of the digestive tract. A number of other products, capsules, drinks and other yogurts also claim to contain probiotics, but none advertise as prominently as Activia.
Within a few months of the apprearance of Activia yogurt and its advertisements, consumers began to react both positively and negatively to a number of information sources. While a portion of the Activia customers reported satisfactory results from eating Activia for two weeks, some others reported no improvement or an increase in symptoms. The complaints resulted in a number of lawsuits and the decision of the Federal Trade Commission that Dannon's claims must specify eating the yogurt three times each day for two weeks.
An implication of the advertising claims for Activia is that such serious disorders as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which includes colitis and ulcerative colitis, might be cured or eased by ingesting Activia. Some researchers claim that not only will Activia not relieve IBS, it may actually make the condition worse because it is a dairy product and many sufferers from IBS are allergic to dairy products. Dairy allergies may not be known to IBS patients who buy and eat Activia, thinking it will be helpful in their condition, only to find that they are suffering worse than before.
Use Activia and other probiotic products with caution, paying careful attention to the results. If ingesting Activia causes pain or other discomfort or if symptoms continue, discontinue its use. For persistent digestive problems, consult a physician for treatment recommendations, which will most likely include plenty of fluid and fiber as well as a reduction in stress.