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Consumer Reports Health News
Date:3/3/2009

YONKERS, N.Y., March 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Welcome to Consumer Reports Health News for health and medical journalists. Consumer Reports and ConsumerReportsHealth.org cover issues pertaining to the efficacy and safety of prescription and non-prescription drugs (including natural medicines), mental health, diet and nutrition, food safety, and fitness. CR tests health and fitness products, rates the effectiveness and affordability of prescription drugs, and evaluates the claims made by drug companies and the health care industry - all without commercial agendas or advertiser influence.

GROCERY GOTCHAS: DON'T FALL FOR DECEPTIVE FOOD LABELS

Love your morning cheerios? It's hard to miss the giant banner stretched across the middle of the cereal box that reads: "Lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks." Turns out there's some fine print behind that health promise. When combined with a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, one may reap those cholesterol lowering benefits, but not by consuming Cheerios alone.

A new special report from the editors of Consumer Reports Health looks at several grocery-aisle gotchas, cautioning that one can't make assumptions about food based on its packaging. The report recommends that consumers think twice when they see marketing terms that sounds like health claims. Some of those terms include "Organic," "Natural," "Whole Grains," and "Cage Free."

Here are a few "gotchas" from the report:

  • The "All Natural" claim confuses the vast majority of consumers, according to a 2007 poll by Consumer Reports. Case in point: Snapple Tea carries the label "All Natural," when in fact the bottled tea contains high-fructose corn syrup, a highly processed form of sugar. Part of the confusion results from the fact that the Food and Drug Administration does not officially define the term "natural."
  • There are three tiers of "organic" labeling - "100% organic," "organic," and "made with organic ingredients" - and they all mean different things.
  • A chicken that gets as little as 5 minutes of open-air access daily qualifies as "free range."

To read the full report on food labeling, go to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

SHOULD WOMEN TAKE VIAGRA?

While the Food and Drug Administration has not approved Viagra or similar sex-enhancing drugs for use in women, many doctors prescribe it as an off-label drug. Consumer Reports notes that for most women, the erectile dysfunction drug holds little promise. However, some women who take antidepressants and suffer sexual problems as a side effect may be helped. Even then, other strategies should be considered first. To read the full report on Viagra, go to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

TIPS FOR BUILDING A HOME GYM FOR LESS THAN $100

In these trying economic times, a home gym offers a convenient and cost-effective work out that can be more affordable than a costly gym membership. A new guide from Consumer Reports provides tips for building a home gym for under $100. The following items are not only inexpensive but, when combined, they also offer a diverse workout:

  • Dumbbells to tone muscles. Costs about $6 to $60 a pair
  • Elastic bands or tubes for resistance training. Costs about $10 to $15 each
  • Stability ball to add variety to workouts. Costs about $20 to $40
  • Exercise mat to cushion joints. Costs about $13 to $20
  • Workout DVDs that include strength, flexibility, and cardio routines. Costs about $15 each

For the full report, go to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org.

MANY CASES OF DIABETES GO UNDETECTED

Four out of 10 people who have type-2 diabetes don't know it - and they aren't getting the treatment they need. That's the word from a recent Consumer Reports Health blog. Not everyone who has type-2 diabetes gets symptoms, and people with pre-diabetes don't get symptoms at all. Experts say that everyone over age 45 should be tested. Consumer Reports advises people to talk to their doctors if they have risk factors for the condition, such as a family history of diabetes, a weight problem, or heart disease. For more information, go to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org and check out Consumer Reports' free diabetes report by clicking on the Prescription Drug tab.

FEBRUARY 2009

The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports on Health(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.


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