Consumer Health Digest #13-09
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 28, 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.
Herbalife research connections questioned. The Los Angeles Times has published a startling report about the financial relationships between Herbalife, prominent researchers who been promoting the company, and the University of California-Los Angeles Geffen School of Medicine. [Hiltzik M. Herbalife cozies up with UCLA Los Angeles Times, Feb 22, 2013] The report notes:
- Since 2002, Herbalife has contributed $1.5 million toward the Mark Hughes Cellular and Molecular Nutrition Lab at the medical school's Center for Human Nutrition.
- The lab's director, David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., is chairman of Herbalife's Nutrition Advisory Board. In addition to payment for this, Heber has received Herbalfe stock grants in 2005, 2020, 2011, and 2012, and a firm he is affiliated with collects $300,000 per year from Herbalife.
- Since 2003, Nobel Prize winner Louis Ignarro, Ph.D., has endorsed and promoted Herbalife's Niteworks product as effective against heart disease. Meanwhile, a firm he is connected with has collected $17.8 million, mostly derived from royalties for the product.
The article concludes:
Heber, Ignarro and their colleagues certainly have some sound medical and nutritional ideas to offer, but they've made it impossible to know where the sensible ideas end and the shilling for Herbalife begins. Herbalife maintains that it employs its UCLA cadre "as individuals, not in their capacities as UCLA employees or representatives." But that's baloney of an especially non-nutritious variety: Most of them are on the Herbalife payroll because of their UCLA connection. . . . When torrents of cash fall upon people like Heber and Ignarro—especially when the payments promote interests fundamentally in conflict with their responsibilities for thorough, objective research—it's proper to ask whether the recipients should be viewed primarily as university professors with an income source on the side, or as agents of industry exploiting their academic titles for show.
MLM Watch has a detailed report on Niteworks.
Florida hospital chain to stop hiring tobacco users. Orlando Health, has announced that as of April 1, it will start a tobacco-free hiring policy at seven of its hospitals. Current employees will be exempt from the policy, but prospective employees will have their urine screened for cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine. The organization's action is part of a slowly growing trend. The Cleveland Clinic stopped hiring tobacco users in 2007, Baylor Health Care System (Texas) did so in 2011, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System plans to do so in July. [Jamison W. Orlando Health to start tobacco-free hiring policy. SunSentinal, Feb 25, 2013] Tobacco-free workers tend to be more productive, generate fewer medical costs, and set a better example for patients.
Suit aimed to halt school yoga program. Attorneys for the National Center For Law & Policy (NCLP) have filed a civil rights lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD). The complaint states:
- During the summer of 2012, the K.P. Jois USA Foundation gave EUSD $533,000, the purpose of which was to “deliver a world class mind/body wellness program at all nine Encinitas Elementary schools."
- The Jois Foundation's stated goal is to promote the "gospel" of Ashtanga (Hindu beliefs and practices), a deeply religious form of yoga, worldwide. Ashtanga is said to have eight limbs: moral codes; self-purification and study; posture; breath control; withdrawing the mind from the senses; concentration; deep meditation; and absorption into the Universal/Divine.
- In September 2012, the EUSD replaced approximately 60 of the 100 weekly physical education hours in about half of its schools with an Ashtanga-based curriculum. taught by instructors trained by the foundation. The teachings have included supernatural yoga life concepts, worshipful poses, discussion about a Hindu God, and play-acting as Hindu religious specialists.
- The yoga program has proven divisive and has led to harassment, discrimination, bullying, and segregation of children who have opted out and are not receiving the mandated minimum of physical education hours.
The lawsuit seeks to force the EUSD to end the yoga program and provide a minimum number of physical education minutes required by California law. The plaintiffs are Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock and their minor children, who are students in the district.
This page was posted on March 3, 2013.