Tag: Hype

Marlboro to Introduce “Smoke Rite” 6 Cig Health Packs

Smokers rejoice. There is a new, healthier way to smoke, all thanks to the innovators at Altria (formerly known as Philip Morris). Marlboro has just released Smoke Rites, a new line of health conscious products for modern people with active lifestyles.

The concept was borne over two years of intense research at Marlboro laboratories. Head researcher Dr. Dylan Pantzenfahr explains, “Curing lung cancer is one of Marlboro’s top priorities. And while we can’t change the nature of [tobacco], we can change the way people smoke it.” Pantzenfahr is referring to serving size. To date there is no standard serving size for cigarette consumption. “It’s a tricky question,” says Pantzenfahr, “A man with massive lungs may consume a much larger serving of cigarettes than, say, a tiny person.” Nevertheless, in early 2007 Pantzenfahr and his team of specialists made it their one mission to answer the serving size question.

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Coca-Cola Cares About Your Health

It’s the stuff of quintessential irony. Paradox. An absurdity so egregious it’s painful to type, let alone view on the screen. (There’s actual smoke rising from my keyboard….) We’re talking corporate “public health” sponsorships so ridiculous your eyes will fall out of your head. First, a show of hands. How many of you are familiar with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)? Sounds like a thoughtful, professional organization, yes? A group dedicated to noble and intelligent advocacy for good family health, no? Voices of expert reason, rational and practical medical authority, right? A group that would – with sound mind and sobriety – partner with a soda company for a nutrition-focused consumer education program??? Folks, I got my boots on today for a good old-fashioned butt kicking (blog style, that is). Pull up a chair. I’m just getting started.

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The Biggest Loser… Is the Audience

I watched The Biggest Loser last week – as well as the prior week’s opener, thanks to TiVo. I know what you’re thinking, but, hey, it’s my job and it has to be done. Truth is, I figure it’s about time someone shook America by the lapels and exposed the myths and fallacies in this show, which has become one of the most popular on TV. With all the glowing coverage, the average viewer is starting to think The Biggest Loser somehow represents the indomitability of the human spirit and the triumph of modern bariatric medicine. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a made-for-TV spectacle that has morphed into a cruel hoax perpetrated on the typical overweight person in America who is desperately looking for the weight-loss secret. It shows precisely how NOT to lose weight. Talk about two steps forward and three steps back. A few years ago, I suggested in this post that there were a few things right with the show (I still took them to task for their sponsor choices) but I’ve changed my mind. If this season’s opener, in which two morbidly obese, untrained contestants nearly died trying to race a mile in the heat, is any indication, nothing will do more to prolong the current obesity epidemic than a fixation on the Biggest Loser and its yelling, screaming, puking, crying, collapsing, extreme dieting, six-hour workout mentality. Hell, if I were an obese person watching all this, I’d be thinking, “dude, if this is what it takes to lose the weight, pass me another Twinkie and let’s see what’s on VH1.”

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Who You Callin’ Stupid and Lazy?

A number of readers have sent me links (thanks, readers) to a new study coming out of the UK that raised some eyebrows all across the Internet earlier this week. The headlines seemed to scream from everywhere “Do High Fat Diets Make Us Stupid and Lazy?” That, in turn, made me scream, so I took a look at this paper in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology: Deterioration of physical performance and cognitive function in rats with short-term high-fat feeding

What I found was a less-than-impressive short-term study on rat performance that told me what I already knew: that it takes a while for new gene expression to really kick in when you radically shift diets. Just like some of you are seeing in the 30-day challenge. So what?

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Food Labeling Nonsense

I thought I’d forgo my regularly scheduled “Dear Mark” Monday post (or “Dear Readers” as the case may be) for a subject very near and dear to my heart: the constantly-evolving, ever-confusing ways of the food rating labelers. Whether it’s the AHA-approved red “Heart Healthy” stamps that implore overweight diabetics to stuff themselves with “healthy” whole grains or the mention of antioxidant and fiber content somehow making that sugary breakfast cereal good for your kids, packaged food distributors seem to love making outlandish claims that bear little to no fruit. It’s incredibly effective, though, for the same reason people will believe anything they hear on TV or uttered by someone with an official title. We’ve already got a far-reaching bunch of bureaucrats at the FDA deciding which macronutrients to highlight and which to demonize on the official nutritional labels that adorn the back of every packaged food item, so the natural next step is a mishmash of extraneous labeling that tries to make nutritional recommendations based on the FDA data (which is itself based on flawed, misguided, or even blatantly false science).

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Purposely Misleading Marketing Lingo: Sunscreen Edition

As you may know, I’m not a huge fan of sunscreen lotion. I just don’t think it’s all that necessary. If you’ve had enough Vitamin D skin production for one day, and you’re worried about burning up, using physical barriers – like shirts, hats, umbrellas – to impede the sunlight is better than slathering your skin with powerful chemicals. Still, in the event that the only thing standing between you and a second-degree sunburn is the application of some lotion, have at it. Just be aware that, according to a recent NY Times piece, there is some seriously misleading marketing lingo circulating in regards to SPF counts.

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The Red Scare

It’s a headline you’ve probably seen by now splashed all over the news sites and channels – “Eating More Red Meat Ups Mortality Risk.” (Red meat once again wears the black hat: surprise, surprise.) Actually, millions of readers/viewers have likely stumbled across the caption and unfortunately taken it at face value. But you know us by now. It’s just too much fun being the merry skeptics when it comes to these sound bites of misinformation.

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Off-Label Cosmetic Prescriptions

Last month we brought you news (and humble perspective) on the pharmaceutical industry’s off-label marketing practices. Just a couple weeks after the fact, what before our wondering eyes should appear? News that a glaucoma drug (Lumigan) was just approved by the FDA for off-label use as an eyelash enhancer. Call us suckers, we know, but we couldn’t resist taking the bite. Finding new uses for existing poor selling drugs has become a cottage industry. Reminds me of the old SNL skit, “Shimmer. It’s a dessert topping AND a floor wax!”

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Study Spotlight: The Mood Diet

Were you angered by traffic this morning or awakened abruptly? Have you been feeling blue with the onset of winter or charged by the vigor of the holiday season? Would you describe your mood lately as generally optimistic and happy? Or are you plagued by an enigmatic anxiety or erratic energy? Has depression been a problem for you? Do you find yourself easily annoyed or frustrated?

We were as surprised as anyone when we read the latest study following the seeming success of so-called “mood eating” and its physiological response. The research, a collaborative endeavor of the Institute of Nutrition and Physiological Function and the Center for Complementary Nutrition Therapy, followed 17 participants for 5 weeks. Dr. Stephen Quatschen, head of the study, says subjects experienced emotional release and corresponding physiological changes from particular foods. It seems Quatschen and his associates have identified varieties of foods that appear to temporarily counter or enhance several common emotional moods. Food characteristics such as texture, smell, shape and color strongly figured into subjects’ responses.

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Off-Label Pharmaceutical Promotion

What can we say? We’ve got Pharma on the mind this week! On Monday Mark offered commentary on the latest “study” being spun to further promote statins to the general population. It seemed like an opportune time to bring you news of a recent report on the “unofficial” business of off-label pharmaceutical marketing and the clever manipulation of drug approval rules and research dissemination.

Two researchers with significant experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., an associate professor in the GUMC Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and Douglas Melnick, M.D., a preventive medicine physician in the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have published a report in the free online journal PLoS Medicine shedding light on risky and legally questionable practices that have become commonplace in the industry.

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