Expert says billions of dollars wasted on ‘quack’ health food products

Dalhousie Medical School researchers have discovered that embryonic stem cells may play a critical role in helping people with nerve damage and motor neuron diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), regain muscular strength. Motor neurons reside in the spinal cord and control limb movements by enabling muscles to contract. Diseases like ALS cause them

Full Post: Researchers use embryonic stem cells from mice to grow motor neurons

A British nutrition expert says billions of dollars are being wasted on ‘quack’ health food products.

According to Professor Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow, globally every year, obese people waste billions of pounds on food products that ‘imply’ that they aid weight loss, which are actually totally ineffective.

Professor Lean says the distinction between medicines and foods is sometimes unclear when they are marketed for health reasons and consumers can be misled and he hopes that a new European Union (EU) Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices, adopted this year in UK, will offer protection to vulnerable consumers who are tricked into buying useless food products or supplements in attempts to combat their disease.

Food products that are marketed for health reasons are not subject to the same stringent research trials and control that drugs are subjected to and consumers are all too often misled.

While it is already illegal for unsubstantiated claims to be made about the composition or nutritional function of food products, (that they are low in fat, high in fibre or help lower cholesterol) it is also illegal to claim that a food can treat or prevent any disease - including obesity.

But despite this many unsubstantiated health claims are still made, or implied, and marketing which is misleading can be found on brand names, images, packaging, and on shelf or shop names and on websites which suggest that the products help weight control, are slimming, or are “health foods”, when there is no evidence to support such claims.

Professor Lean says he is concerned that obese people have been fooled into parting with billions every year on products that cannot help them - in 2000, people in the U.S. spent $35bn (£22bn) on weight loss products, many of them making false and unsubstantiated claims.

Professor Lean hopes the commercial exploitation of vulnerable patients with ‘quack medicines’ will be brought to an end with the introduction of the new EU directive, but he also suggests the laws will need to be enforced proactively to enable doctors and consumers to move towards managing diseases confidently with evidence based treatment and diet programmes.

Professor Lean says of all the hundreds of products currently on sale to help people lose weight, only energy-restricted diets and exercise, the drugs orlistat and sibutramine, and in some cases bariatric surgery, are safe, effective and cost-effective - the remainder, he says, are either not effective or not safe.

Professor Lean says the new regulations may possibly even help with the wider battle of preventing obesity, by prohibiting advertisements across the EU that encourage children to buy energy dense products and demand that their parents buy them.

Professor Lean’s article appears in the British Medical Journal.


Globally every year, obese people waste billions of pounds on food products that ‘imply’ that they aid weight loss, but are totally ineffective, says a nutritional expert on Professor Lean from the University of Glasgow, is hopeful that a new European Union (EU) Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices, adopted this year in UK, will

Full Post: Millions being tricked into buying useless diet food products or supplements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that Wilderness Family Naturals LLC of Silver Bay, Minn., and its owners have signed a consent decree that prohibits them from manufacturing and distributing any products with unapproved claims that the products cure, treat, mitigate or prevent diseases. Wilderness Family is a manufacturer and distributor of conventional

Full Post: FDA announces permanent injunction against Wilderness Family Naturals

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has been accused of making deceptive and unsubstantiated health claims about its Vitaminwater beverages. According to the American consumer group the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Coca-Cola have made a range of claims about Vitaminwater that go beyond those allowed by the Food and Drug Administration. The CSPI

Full Post: Coca-Cola accused of outright fraud

A group of scientists in Britain say beyond the clinical treatment of drug addiction and poisoning, the ‘detox’ theory is a myth and the general public is being misled. The scientists who are associated with the charity ‘Sense About Science’ say the best way to stay healthy is to eat plenty of fresh fruit

Full Post: Detox theory a myth and a waste of money

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a Class 1 recall today for two unapproved and uncleared devices whose manufacturers claimed could treat various medical conditions. A Class 1 recall means that there is a reasonable probability that the use of a device will cause adverse health consequences or death. The manufacturers, VIBE Technologies

Full Post: FDA Class 1 recall for two medical devices