Consumer Health Digest #06-18
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 2, 2006
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
FTC issues report on childhood obesity. The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services have released a report recommending steps that industry can take to combat childhood obesity. [FTC, HHS release report on food marketing and childhood obesity] Since 1980, childhood obesity rates have tripled among adolescents and doubled among younger children. The report summarizes the proceedings of a 2005 workshop whose participants recommended:
- Food companies should intensify their efforts to make their products lower in calories, more nutritious, more appealing to children, and more convenient to prepare and eat.
- Food companies should explore labeling initiatives, including icons and seals, to identify lower-calorie, nutritious foods clearly and in a manner that does not mislead consumers.
- Food companies should revise their marketing practices with the goal of improving the overall nutritional profile of the foods marketed to children.
- Media and entertainment companies should continue to develop and disseminate educational messages about nutrition and fitness that are simple, positive, and repeated consistently across various platforms, with broad participation from other stakeholders
- Media and entertainment companies should revise their licensing of children’s television and movie characters to foster promotion of more nutritious, lower-calorie foods.
- All parties should tailor their public education efforts to promote better nutrition and fitness to ethnic minority groups in which childhood obesity is more prevalent.
Congress recently directed the FTC to investigate the full range of food marketing activities directed at children and adolescents. When completed, this study should provide a better understanding of the full extent and variety of techniques used to reach children. However, the workshop participants agreed that there are many positive steps that individual food companies, the media, and the private sector as a whole, can take now.
In a parallel development, the American Beverage Association, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Cadbury Schweppes have adopted a policy that is expected to stop or reduce the sale of sugary drinks in elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the United States. The policy, which was brokered by the Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, is summarized on the Clinton Foundation Web site. [Alliance for a Healthier Generation . . . and industry leaders set healthy school beverage guidelines for U.S. schools. Clinton Foundation news release, May 3, 2006]
"Black salve" marketer confronted. The FDA has warned Risingsun Health Alternatives and Herbs, a Division of McAdam Health Enterprises to stop marketing Cansema salves and tonics with claims (including testimonials) that they are effective against cancer. The letter stated that claims of this type are illegal because the products are not FDA-approved as drugs. [Breen CM. Warning letter to Greta Armstrong. April 6, 2006] In response to the notice, the company removed testimonials and certain other promotional statements from its sites. However, it told prospective buyers how to find testimonials on other sites and still makes it clear that the products are intended for treating cancer. Cansema's skin products contain bloodroot, which is claimed to destroy cancerous tissues while preserving normal tissues. This claim is false, however, and cases have been reported in which patients who used such products have been disfigured. [Barrett S. Don't use corrosive cancer salves (echarotics). Quackwatch, May 3, 2006]
Man posing as doctor arrested for offering free breast exams. Philip Winikoff, 76, of Coconut Creek, Florida, has been arrested for performing free breast exams on two women who accepted his offer of free examinations. Broward Sheriff’s Office investigators state that Winikoff (a) carried a black “doctor’s” bag, (b) persuaded two women in an apartment complex in Lauderdale Lakes (Florida) to let him enter their apartments and examine their breasts, and (c) also touched other parts of their body. Investigators believe that he has probably victimized other women who were embarrassed about making a report. [Phony doc offered free breast exams. Broward Sheriff's Office news release, April 19, 2006]
This page was posted on May 3, 2006.