Consumer Health Digest #13-02
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 10, 2013
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.
Groups respond to school massacre. Spurred by the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, several prominent medical groups that regard gun violence as a public health problem have issued statements and a new organization has formed to counter the National Rifle Association's ability to block remedial legislation.
- The American College of Emergency Physicians—a longtime advocate for stricter gun-control legislation—called for a ban on both assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition cartridges as well as increased funding for mental-health services and funding for firearms injury-prevention research.
- The American Academy of Family Physicians supports strong enforcement of existing laws on the manufacture, sale and possession of guns; supporting legislation requiring the use of trigger locks; and opposing the private ownership of assault weapons.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms; a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons; and the strongest possible regulations of handguns for civilian use.
- The American Medical Association, which has been active in this area more than 20 years, supports appropriate legislation that would restrict the sale and private ownership of large-clip, high-rate-of-fire automatic and semiautomatic firearms, or any weapon that is modified or redesigned to operate as a large-clip, high-rate-of-fire automatic or semiautomatic weapon. The AMA also opposes state laws prohibiting physicians from asking patients about guns in their home.
- Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelley, with help from New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, have launched Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action group intended to raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby and to "line up squarely behind leaders who will stand up for what's right."
CAP issues "Do's and Don'ts" for weight loss ads. The United Kingdom's Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) write and maintain the UK Advertising Codes that are implemented by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). CAP's recent advice for diet claims includes:
- Don't claim people can lose a precise amount of weight in a set period of time or that weight can be lost from specific parts of the body. Claiming "Lose up to two pounds a day" could mean your name will be posted for up to five years on the ASA website.
- Make sure you don't imply the weight loss is permanent or easy.
- Don't make claims that foods can help you lose a specific amount of weight in a set amount of time.
It would be useful if the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued trade regulation rules banning deceptive claims and held advertising media jointly responsible for the financial damage done by misleading ads that violate the rules.
Nasty e-mails to Dr. Barrett posted. Quackwatch has posted a selection of hateful messages received by Dr. Stephen Barrett during the past two years. Most senders appear to feel deeply offended that their beliefs were challenged. Many falsely assert that his views are determined by financial considerations and/or controlled by outside entities such as drug companies or organized medicine. Most of the critics appear to be incapable of considering that his Internet activities reflect genuine beliefs and are done as a public service. A recent article in Skeptical Inquirer notes that profound feelings of insult to a deeply held belief ranks among the most powerful and pervasive failures of human reasoning.
Bob Steiner, prominent skeptic, has died. Robert A. Steiner, a prominent magician and quackery opponent, has died at the age of 78. A Certified Public Accountant, he also served as a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), president of the Society of American Magicians, and board member of the National Council against Health Fraud. His most significant actions included the unmasking of psychics and faith healers. The CSI Web site has posted an article about his activities.
This page was revised on January 13, 2013.