Consumer Health Digest #06-42

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 17, 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.

New guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. The American Cancer Society ACS) has updated its guidelines for individual and community actions to reduce the incidence of cancer. [Kushi LH and others. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: Reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 56:254-281, 2006] The recommendations are consistent with the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association guidelines for preventing coronary heart disease and diabetes, as well as for general health promotion as intended by the Department of Health and Human Services' 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, the ACS document addresses common questions about the use of dietary supplements, foods, food substances, and herbal products. The recommendations include:

Maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
• Balance caloric intake with physical activity.
• Avoid excessive weight gain throughout the life cycle.
• Achieve and maintain a healthy weight if currently overweight or obese.

Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
• Adults: engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on 5 or more days of the week. Forty-five to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity are preferable.
• Children and adolescents: engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week.

Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.
• Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat five or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
• Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.
• Limit consumption of processed and red meats.

If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.
• Drink no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

Recommendations for Community Action
• Public, private, and community organizations should work to create social and physical environments that support the adoption and maintenance of healthful nutrition and physical activity behaviors.
• Increase access to healthful foods in schools, worksites, and communities.
Provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools, and for transportation and recreation in communities.

The full-text article and a patient information sheet are available on the journal's Web site.

British agency raps hair test for "food intolerance." The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has concluded that the Bionetics "food intolerance" test is not valid. In response to two complaints, the agency evaluated an ad for the test which had stated: "The bionetics team have developed an innovative new diagnostic test (that requires just a few strands of your hair), which can establish whether or not your body has become intolerant to 123 of the most common problem foods and ingredients." In response to an ASA inquiry, the company stated:

The ASA concluded that testimonials were not sufficient evidence to justify claims that Bionetics methods of hair testing could "establish whether or not your body has become intolerant to 123 of the most common problem foods and ingredients" and "report on . . . accumulations of toxins, problem pathogens and nutritional deficiencies."

Bionetics Limited is located in Camberly, UK. Its Web site states that its machine scanner evaluates a hair sample by "analyzing the energy fields in the root of the hair" and that "these fields make up a complete energetic 'signature' of the body." The test report then recommends a program that includes foods to avoid, nutritional supplements, herbs and homeopathy "needed to eliminate your stresses." Applied kinesiology (muscle testing), radionics, and the Bionetics test itself have no scientific validity.

FTC hits " reducing soap" marketers. The Federal Trade Commission has charged sellers of the “Centro Natural de Salud Obesity Treatment” with making false and unsubstantiated claims that their product causes rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss. The “treatment” consists of three pills, taken with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a bar of “reducing soap” to “reduce dress sizes.” The claims were made in Spanish-speakng infomercials. The defendants, Centro Natural Services, Inc., Xavier Rodriguez, and Rocio Diaz (Rodriguez's wife) are located in Santa Ana, California. The FTC complaint charges that they falsely claimed their treatment would cause users to (a) lose substantial amounts of weight rapidly, without reducing calorie intake; (b) safely to lose as much as a half pound per day for multiple weeks and months; and/or (c) lose weight permanently. The soap was claimed to reduce flab and prevent stretch marks by "compressing tissue." [FTC: Three pills and special soap “obesity treatment” won’t wash away the pounds. FTC news release, Oct 17, 2006]

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This page was posted on October 17, 2006.