Consumer Health Digest #12-45

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 20, 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.

EMF protection device claims blasted. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Business Revolutions Ltd to stop claiming that its WillauTronic devices can protect people from alleged adverse effects of "electrosmog" ("eSmog"). The company's Web site claims that ever-present magnetic fields induce tiny electric currents that produce unhealthy effects in human, animal, and plant bio-systems. The company further claims that "eSmog" can cause nervousness, sleeplessness, headaches, allergies, cancer, and death and that its devices can "keep your family healthy." After Dr. Stephen Barrett complained to the ASA, the company claimed that (a) they were not aware that their website was accessible to the public and (b) because they hadn't developed the products and were only an agent to sell them, they should not be considered to be an advertiser. They made some modifications, but the ASA concluded that the claims were unsubstantiated and still misleading. Business Revolution Ltd defied the ASA's order to stop and is now listed as a noncompliant online advertiser.

Chiropractor charged with criminally exploiting a patient. John O. Meadors, Utah Spine + Disk in Murry, Utah, has been charged with one count of second-degree felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The Salt Lake City Tribune has reported that (a) the patient, who was unable to manage her financial affairs, signed a contract for 20 visits and was persuaded to open a $6,000 line of credit to pay for them; (b) Her legal guardian accompanied her to the clinic but was not aware of the contract or credit application; (c) Meadors treated the woman three times but was paid $5,250 by CareCredit for treatments that included the free sessions and additional treatments that were not provided; (d) Despite being told that the patient is disabled and that the contract was fraudulent, Meadors did not cancel any charges; and (e) meanwhile the credit card company is pressing for payment. [Dobner J. Chiropractor faces felony charge for fraudulent contract. Salt Lake City Tribune, Dec 17, 2012]


Meadors' clinic Web site refers to him as "the nation's leading back pain relief expert" and "the defacto unrivaled Number One Chiropractor in the U.S." In addition to operating his own clinic, Meadors also markets his treatment system to other chiropractors. In videos posted to You Tube, Meadors states that he has collected as much as $157,000 in a single week and promises prospective buyers they can make more money in a month than they have been able to make in a year. Many chiropractors persuade patients to sign contracts for multiple visits and use CareCredit to finance them. This appears to be the first time a chiropractor has been criminally charged with deception. Chirobase has additional information about Meadors' activities.

FTC issues food marketing report. The Federal Trade Commission has released a comprehensive analysis of food and beverage industry marketing expenditures and activities directed to children and teens. The study, A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents: Follow-Up Report, assesses industry efforts to encourage food advertisers to promote a healthy diet. The report notes that industry self-regulation has resulted in modest nutritional improvements from 2006 to 2009 within categories heavily marketed to youth, including cereals, drinks, and fast food meals. However, some significant companies have not joined the effort, and the entertainment industry lags farther behind. [FTC Releases follow-up study detailing promotional activities, expenditures, and nutritional profiles of food marketed to children and adolescents commends industry for progress, urges broader participation and continued improvement. FTC news release Dec 21, 2012] In July 2011, the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI)—whose member companies accounted for nearly 90% of advertising expenditures for foods marketed to children in 2009—announced standardized nutrition criteria that will take effect at the end of 2013.

Marketers selling tainted "supplement" under new name. The FDA is warning the public that a product distributed and sold under the name 'WOW' can cause serious harm. Earlier this year, the agency warned that Reumofan Plus—marketed as a "natural" dietary supplement for the treatment of arthritis, bone cancer, and various other problems—contained undeclared steroids and active ingredients found in prescription drugs that should only be used under the medical supervision. Since June, the FDA has received dozens of reports of serious and sometimes fatal outcomes among users Reumofan Plus. The adverse effects include liver injury, severe bleeding, corticosteroid withdrawal syndrome, adrenal suppression, and stroke. Now the agency has discovered that some distributors have deliberately named the product to sell remaining supplies. [Dangerous supplement now sold as 'WOW.' FDA consumer update, Dec 21, 2012]

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This page was posted on December 29, 2012.