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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19996

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Metherell M
Hunt for the truth behind diet pill
The Sydney Morning Herald 2012 Feb 18
http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/hunt-for-the-truth-behind-diet-pill-20120217-1tei9.html


Full text:

IT’S a super-size eater’s dream. Munch a Big Mac and fries then toss back five pills to rid your body of the fatty consequences.
The latest in dietary wonder remedies is named Undoit, a product that, at $1 a tablet, is claimed to let the weight-conscious match their food intake with varying dosages depending on fat content.
The weight-gain of a biscuit can be countered with a single tablet, a tub of ice-cream with two tablets, Undoit’s makers claim.
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The advertising claims the product ‘‘grabs’‘ fat and carbohydrates from food in the gut and stops them being absorbed.
The claims have at best a slim link with medical reality, yet such products are routinely registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, says truth-in-therapeutics campaigner Ken Harvey.
Dr Harvey, fresh from his victory over now-banned SensaSlim, has lodged a complaint under the administration’s advertising code against Undoit.
Dr Harvey was at the forefront of a campaign to make it mandatory for such complementary products to carry a notice on their labels that their therapeutic claims had not been tested. The TGA automatically registers most new complementary products electronically and few are actually assessed. The TGA also has meagre powers to enforce the rules against dodgy claims, Dr Harvey says.
Dr Harvey’s complaint followed Undoit’s latest marketing that its product included the laxative, cassia senna, an ingredient that could trigger ‘‘potentially dangerous’‘ reactions including diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of fluids.
The marketing manager of Undoit, Michael Romm, said Dr Harvey was ‘‘wrong on a number of points’‘. The registered formulation, including the cassia senna Dr Harvey had referred to, was ‘‘newly registered’‘ for an Undoit product which ‘‘has not been manufactured yet’‘.
The advertising for doses of up to five pills after fatty meals, up to a maximum of 12 a day, was for the existing product which did not include cassia senna, Mr Romm said. Dr Harvey, who will amend his complaint accordingly, said the mix-up underlined the vagaries of the system.

 

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There is no sin in being wrong. The sin is in our unwillingness to examine our own beliefs, and in believing that our authorities cannot be wrong. Far from creating cynics, such a story is likely to foster a healthy and creative skepticism, which is something quite different from cynicism.”
- Neil Postman in The End of Education