Friday, May 18, 2007

Snake-Oil Traders

I Just finished reading an article in the Skeptical Inquirer by Edzard Ernst called "Snake-Oil Traders," that describes the current practice and marketing of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the UK.

It was a well written article, with some very interesting points regarding how the British Medical Association and the General medical Council governs the ethics of advertising in medicine.

Specifically, The British Medical Association takes the stance that people who seek medical advice are vulnerable to exploitation. Then they go on to say that the information doctors publish "Must not make unjustifiable claims, offer guarantees of cures, or exploit patent's vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge."

It was the last line that really caught my attention and made me think of the functional food and supplement industry.

Have you noticed how technical and scientific many of the current health claims are becoming in functional food and supplement advertising?

As more and more people are spending time worrying about their health, perhaps its time we adopted a stance that punishes companies from using marketing that is not misleading, but may be exploiting the fact that we might not all have the medical knowledge needed to make educated decisions about the claims in food and supplement advertising.

When it comes to health claims and advertising, I believe many companies are trying to 'blind us with science', thinking that if they use big enough words, then we will have no choice but to believe their claims.

When it comes to advertising, I prefer my 'functional foods' to be the strong silent types. The ones who don't have to yell and scream about their "awesome health benefits". You know, foods like oranges and bananas.

As Michael Pollan says, the more health claims on a product, the less healthy it probably is.


Fasting Diet, Circuit Training

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