Snake oil in your snacks

You know something is terribly wrong when the makers of Froot Loops (a breakfast cereal that’s almost 50% sugar by weight) are bragging about health benefits of the product’s added fibre. Why not just throw a couple of Tim Horton’s gooey maple dips at the kids every morning?

And it gets worse. Foods masquerading as drugs are the hot spot in the packaged-food business. The world’s biggest food companies are stuffing ostensibly beneficial bacteria, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and other additives into packaged foods. Continue reading

Medical miracle breakthrough in the news? Not so fast. . .

You know that photogenic and charming medical “expert” who is trotted out during your breakfast hour newscasts to explain the latest health buzz?  The medical miracle breakthrough that gets a full page spread in the Sunday paper? The CBS television show 60 Minutes gushing over the Kanzius cancer cure machine?  How can you tell if these news stories are on the level?

The simple answer: you can’t. In fact, as the savvy medical journalism watchdogs over at Health News Review warn:

“Every time you think you’ve seen the worst use of media coverage of health topics, something lower pops up.”

For example, here’s how HNR evaluated a “news” story on ABC’s Good Morning America about an off-label unapproved use of laser treatment for toenail fungus:

“The advantages were unsubstantiated, the harms unstated, and the effectiveness exaggerated. Promotion of an unapproved off-label use of laser treatment that has no published study results available. Disease mongering at its worst. Millions of us ‘suffering in silence’ with toenail fungus? Gag me.”

HNR makes the following assessment of the laser treatment news story:   Continue reading