Consumer Health Digest #07-06
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 6, 2007
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.
Enviga's "calorie burning" claims challenged. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is suing Coca-Cola and Nestlé for making fraudulent claims in marketing and labeling for Enviga, a new beverage labeled “the calorie burner” on its cans. Enviga is claimed to have “negative calories” and to “keep those extra calories from building up.” The product's Web site also says the drink is “much smarter than following fads, quick fixes, and crash diets.” CSPI's suit document states:
- Enviga consists of carbonated water, calcium, concentrated green tea extract, various “natural flavors,” and ingredients typically found in diet soda, such as caffeine (three diet colas’ worth), phosphoric acid, and the artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame potassium. The company says its green tea extracts are high in an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.
- Enviga’s main claims are based on a 72-hour Nestlé-funded study of 31 people who were given a drink containing amounts of EGCG and caffeine equivalent to three cans of Enviga. An abstract of the unpublished study stated that on average, those subjects expended more energy. However, none of the 31 were overweight or obese when the study began.
- The study showed that, at best, healthy, active, average-weight people might see a 100-calorie drop every day they drink three cans of Enviga. It would take 35 days of constant consumption of Enviga—105 cans at a cost of about $146 (at $1.39 per can)—to see even one pound of possible weight loss—and that assumes that the consumers would not eat 100 extra calories worth of other foods.
- No test of Enviga has lasted more than three days. One European study found that EGCG and caffeine did not increase energy expenditure after one month and did not help people lose weight. One longer-term Japanese study did show that a tea fortified with EGCG and caffeine helped people lose more weight than a control tea, but that study was conducted by a tea company and the subjects of the study were 38 of that company’s male employees
CSPI's scientists have concluded that "Enviga is just a highly caffeinated and overpriced diet soda, and is exactly the kind of faddy, phony diet aid it claims not to be." [Watchdog group sues Coke, Nestlé for bogus "Enviga claims." CSPI news release, Feb 2007] Meanwhile, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked the marketers for copies of all scientific studies, clinical trials, tests, and/or papers that support the calorie-burning claims—and information about any group that may have sponsored the studies. [Attorney General demands that Coca-Cola, Nestle prove claims of 'calorie-burning' beverage. Connecticut Attorney General press release, Feb 5, 2007]
Book about "Health Secrets" criticized. Infomercial Watch has severely criticized the 2006 edition of Bottom Line Books' World’s Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets and the infomercial used to promote it. [ [Quill TJ. The World's Greatest Treasury of Health Secrets: Comments on the 2006 book and infomercial. Infomercial Watch, Feb 2, 2007] The article concludes:
- The book is a conglomeration of unrelated articles of varying quality and validity by authors of varying reliability. Some contain valid medical advice by reputable experts, but many are brief and/or discuss only one or two aspects of complex medical problems.
- The book contains no evidence that medical secrets are being hidden from the public, as the infomercial repeatedly states.
- Much of the book's material is simply recycled from other Bottom Line publications.
- The book contains no medical information that cannot be found, in a more complete and correct form, in standard medical texts and high-quality Web sites.
- The book is a very poor value for consumers.
FTC debunks warnings about cell phone telemarketing. As the number of phone numbers on the National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry passed 139 million, the FTC restated that cell-phone users should not be concerned that their phone numbers will be released to telemarketers in the near future. The agency's statement is a response to widely circulating e-mails which claim that cell phones must be registered soon to be protected. The FTC permits registration but says it is not necessary because most telemarketers use automatic dialers and Federal Communications Commission regulations ban the use of automatic dialers to solicit cell phones. [The truth about cell phones and the Do Not Call Registry. FTC news release, Feb 6, 2007]
Quackwatch sites increase efficiency. Quackwatch and its affiliated sites have been moved to a much faster server. The Web Glimpse II multi-site search page can now search thousands of pages on up to 22 sites in less than one second. Quackwatch's Google Custom Search, which is equally fast, provides an alternative way of displaying the results.
This page was posted on February 7, 2007.