Consumer Health Digest #18-48
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 2, 2018
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. 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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.
New physical activity guidelines for Americans released. The second edition (2018) of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans updates the first (2008) edition in providing evidence-based recommendations for adults and youth ages 3 through 17 to safely get the physical activity they need. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.] Highlights of the guidelines include:
- Children ages 3 through 5 should be active throughout the day to enhance growth and development. Adults caring for children this age should encourage active play (light, moderate, or vigorous intensity) and aim for at least 3 hours per day.
- Each day, youth ages 6 through 17 need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity to attain the most health benefits from physical activity. Most activity can be aerobic, like walking, running, or anything that makes their heart beat faster. They also need activities that make their muscles and bones strong, like climbing on playground equipment, playing basketball, or jumping rope.
- Adults should aim for at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. They also also need muscle-strengthening activity, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups, at least 2 days each week.
- Physical activity has many health benefits independent of other healthy behaviors such as good nutrition.
- The first key guideline for adults is to move more and sit less. This recommendation is based on new evidence that shows a strong relationship between increased sedentary behavior and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. All physical activity, especially moderate-to-vigorous activity, can help offset these risks.
- Americans can benefit from small amounts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity throughout the day. The first edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans stated that only 10-minute bouts of physical activity counted toward meeting the guidelines. The new edition removes this requirement to encourage Americans to move more frequently throughout the day as they work toward meeting the guidelines.
- New evidence shows that physical activity has immediate health benefits. For example, physical activity can reduce anxiety and blood pressure and improve quality of sleep and insulin sensitivity.
- Meeting the new recommendations consistently over time can lead to long-term health benefits. The newly established benefits below appear are followed by an asterisk.
- For youth, physical activity can help improve cognition,* bone health, fitness, and heart health and reduce the risk of depression.
- For adults, physical activity helps prevent eight types of cancer (bladder," breast, colon, endometrium*, esophagus,* kidney,* stomach,* and lung*); reduces the risk of dementia* (including Alzheimer's disease*), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
- For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.*
- For pregnant women, physical activity reduces the risk of postpartum depression.*
- For all groups, physical activity reduces the risk of excessive weight gain* and helps people maintain a healthy weight.
- New evidence shows that physical activity can also help manage more health conditions that Americans already have. For example, physical activity can decrease pain for those with osteoarthritis; reduce disease progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes; reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression; and improve cognition for those with dementia, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, and Parkinson's disease.
A summary of key guidelines was published in November. [Piercy KL and others. The physical activity guidelines for Americans. JAMA 320:2020-2028, 2018] An accompanying editorial noted:
Probably the most important message from the 2018 guidelines is that the greatest health benefits accrue by moving from no, to even small amounts of, physical activity, especially if that activity is of moderate (e.g., brisk walking) or vigorous (e.g., jogging and running) intensity. Multiple studies demonstrate that the steepest reduction in disease risk, such as for coronary heart disease, occurs at the lowest levels of physical activity. Patients need to understand that even small amounts of physical activity are beneficial and that reductions in the risk of disease and disability occur by simply getting moving. The evidence demonstrates that adults obtain the maximal benefits of physical activity by regularly performing 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. These levels of activity are possible for most healthy people. [Thompson PD, Eijsvogels TMH. New physical activity guidelines. a call to activity for clinicians and patients. JAMA 320:1983-1984, 2018]
The scientific report upon which the new guidelines are based is also available online.
Jury decision affirmed in favor of homeopathy sellers. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a jury verdict in a consumer class action deceptive advertising case in favor of Boiron Inc. and Boiron USA, Inc., the sellers of Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic product marketed for the relief of colds and flu-like symptoms. In the jury trial, the plaintiff argued that the product was essentially water resulting from homeopathic dilution sprayed on sugar, but the jury was persuaded by Boiron's anecdotes, clinical studies, and expert testimony that it is effective and therefore Boiron did not violate California's laws against deceptive advertising. The Appeals Court ruled that Boiron presented sufficient evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Oscillococcinum actually works and that a battle of plaintiff's versus defendants' experts could not be relitigated upon appeal. [Ninth Circuit affirms jury verdict in favor of homeopathic remedy for flu-like symptoms. The National Law Review. Nov 27, 2018] Boiron had previously settled two class-action lawsuits but new ones persuaded it to go to trial. [Consumer suits after trial led Boiron to go to trial. Bloomberg BNA, July 27, 2016] Ocillicoccinum is prepared by incubating small amounts of a freshly killed duck's liver and heart for 40 days. The resultant solution is then filtered, freeze-dried, rehydrated, repeatedly diluted, and impregnated into sugar granules. The dilution is so great that the finished product cannot contain its alleged "active ingredient," which means that no amount of research can prove that it is effective. [Barrett S. Homeopathy: The ultimate fake. Quackwatch, Aug 25, 2016] However, this point was apparently beyond the jury's understanding.
This page was posted on December 2, 2018.