Consumer Health Digest #10-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 15, 2010

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.

Clayton College of Natural Health will close. The Clayton College of Natural Health (CCNH), which has probably issued more health-related "degrees" than any other nonaccredited correspondence school, has announced that it will close. Most of the "degrees" it granted were in nutrition or naturopathy. In 2008, Alabama, which had been a haven for substandard schools, began implementing a new rule that private, degree granting, post-secondary educational institutions must be accredited by a recognized agency or be a candidate for accreditation. Clayton's license was due to expire on December 1, 2008, but it was able to remain licensed by becoming a candidate for accreditation by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) for a new program that would lead to a bachelor's degree in nutrition. However, its naturopathy program was outside of DETC's scope and was discontinued. Clayton officials attribute the school's demise to the economic recession, but difficulty in meeting accreditation requirements was probably a significant factor. Clayton's notable "graduates" include Hulda Clark, Robert O. Young, and Jillian McKeith. Quackwatch has a detailed report on its history and activities.

Nestlé subsidiary settles FTC charges for children's meal-replacement products. Nestlé HealthCare Nutrition, Inc. a subsidiary of Nestlé S.A (the world's largest food and nutrition company), has agreed to settle FTC charges that it marketed a children's drink with unsubstantiated claims. [Nestlé subsidiary to settle FTC false advertising charges; will drop deceptive health claims for BOOST Kid Essentials. FTC news release, July 14, 2010] The drink contains 25 vitamins and minerals and comes with a straw embedded with probiotic bacteria. The FTC charged that from fall 2008 to fall 2009, the marketers improperly claimed that the product would prevent upper respiratory tract infections in children, protect against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system, and reduce absences from daycare or school due to illness.

In one video ad (shown to the right), the straw jumped out of the drink box, formed a protective barrier around a girl as she encountered a sneezing boy, and then formed steps allowing her to reach a basketball hoop and shoot a ball into the net. Web sites marketing the product say that it is intended for children ages 2 to 13, is "nutritionally complete," and is suitable for use as a meal replacement.

Many supplements found ineffective for weight loss. At the International Congress on Obesity (ICO 2011) in Stockholm, two research teams reported on studies that found that many popular dietary supplement ingredients are not effective for weight control. One study found that L-carnitine, polyglucosamine, cabbage powder, guarana seed powder, bean extract, konjac extract, fiber, sodium alginate, and selected plant extracts were no more effective than placebos over an 8-week period. The other study was a literature review that summarized the state of evidence from clinical trials involving chromium picolinate, Ephedra, bitter orange, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, guar gum, glucomannan, chitosan and green tea. [New research finds no evidence that popular supplements facilitate weight loss. ICO news release, July 2010]

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This page was posted on July 16, 2010.