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:

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.


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This page was posted on December 2, 2018.