Consumer Health Digest #12-35
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 11, 2012
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.
Pediatricians warn against home trampoline use. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against trampoline use without professional supervision.. [Policy Statement: Trampoline safety in childhood and adolescence. American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement. Pediatrics 130:774-779, 2012] The updated AAP policy statement notes:
- Although trampoline injury rates have been decreasing since 2004, the potential for severe injury remains relatively high.
- Enclosures and padding are not expected to prevent the large numbers of injuries that occur on the trampoline mat itself and may provide a false sense of security.
- Many injuries occur even with reported adult supervision.
- Multiple jumpers increase injury risk, particularly to the smallest participants.
- Somersaulting, flipping, and falls put jumpers at increased risk of head and cervical spine injury with potentially permanent and devastating consequences.
- Equipment, safety measures, and supervision within structured training programs are significantly different than those used in the recreational environment.
High-quality fluoride information posted. The Fluoride Science Web site has posted analyses of seven subjects related to fluoride use: bone cancer, enamel fluorosis, infant formula, IQ), kidney health, tooth decay, and fluoride toothpaste. The information was developed by graduate students and faculty in dental public health. The reports, which can be accessed via the drop-down menu in the "Check the Facts" box, are available in both html and PDF formats. The site is sponsored by the Center for Fluoride Research Analysis.
"Life coach" loses suit against nutrition licensing board. The North Carolina Federal District Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Steve Cooksey against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. Cooksey, who lacks formal training but fancies himself qualified to advise diabetics about nutrition, had been providing advice in private e-mails and conversations, and (beginning in 2010) through a fee-based "life-coaching service" that he referred to as "Diabetes Support." In January 2012, a licensing board representative went through 19 pages of Cooksey's Web site and indicated line-by line what he may and may not say. She also advised him to remove his "life coaching" service. Cooksey did so, but also filed suit with the hope of voiding the state's licensing law. The court concluded that Cooksey lacked standing because he had failed to allege that he had suffered an injury traceable to the Board's conduct and that he had merely received informal guidance about what was legal. Quackwatch has posted additional details about the suit with links to the relevant court documents.
FTC halts dubious insurance plan. The Federal Trade Commission charged a telemarketing operation with bilking millions of dollars from thousands of consumers by tricking them into buying what they believed was comprehensive health insurance, when in fact they had paid for something much less. According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants:
- Contacted consumers who had submitted their contact information to websites that purported to offer quotes and insurance plan information.
- Called hundreds of thousands of telephone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry and repeatedly called consumers who had told them to stop calling.
- Charged an initial fee ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars and a monthly fee ranging from $40 to $1,000. But instead of providing comprehensive insurance, the defendants provided membership in the Independent Association of Businesses (IAB) an obscure "trade association" that provided purported discounts on golf; travel; and hospitalization and disability insurance.
The defendants are IAB Marketing Associates LP, Independent Association of Businesses, HealthCorp International Inc., JW Marketing Designs LLC, International Marketing Agencies LP, International Marketing Management LLC, and Wood LLC, each also doing business as IAB, and the individuals who controlled them, James C. Wood, his sons James J. Wood and Michael J. Wood, and his brother, Gary D. Wood. Their co-defendants, who ran IAB's largest telemarketing operation, include Health Service Providers Inc., Magnolia Health Management Corporation, Magnolia Technologies Corporation, and Fav Marketing Inc., each also doing business as Health Service Providers, and the individuals who controlled them, Roy D. Hamilton and his wife, Judy M. Hamilton. The defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. A federal court has temporarily enjoined the defendants from marketing any products or services related to medical discount plans or health-related insured benefits. [FTC acts to halt medical plan scheme that targeted vulnerable consumers. FTC news release, Oct 10, 2012]
This page was posted on October 12, 2012.