A friend of mine is in great physical shape but her husband (we’ll call him “Mr. B”) has gained 40 pounds since they were married five years ago. He also has familial hypercholesterolemia, and several of his relatives have had heart attacks at young ages. Mrs. B is distraught – she is worried about her husband’s health, and has tried to gently nudge him towards healthier eating habits and regular exercise (as well as taking a statin for his cholesterol). Unfortunately, the nudges were received as nagging, and a wedge has formed between them in their relationship.
Last week my friend planned a trip to a primary care physician in the hopes that he would educate Mr. B about the dangers of being overweight and not treating his high cholesterol. “Surely Mr. B will listen to an expert” she thought, “then perhaps he’ll realize that he has to change his behavior.”
Unfortunately, the primary care physician didn’t offer any health counseling to Mr. B. Not only did he not mention that Mr. B should lose weight, but he didn’t provide any warnings about the dangers of untreated, very high cholesterol levels. He merely reported that Mr. B’s total cholesterol was 300, and that a statin was indicated.
Mrs. B was crestfallen. She was depending on the physician’s authoritative input to help her come up with a strategy to steer her husband towards better health. Now Mr. B was left with the impression that things were more-or-less ok, and that his wife’s concerns were exaggerated. Read more »
I really don’t think the cholesterol lowering effects of Cheerios are comparable to how a drug may help lower cholesterol, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is saying that the claims Cheerios is making on it’s boxes are similar to those made by drug companies. And, by the way, it is against the law. The FDA sent General Mills a letter (read the whole letter here) saying that the phrases they are using on their packages and website are misleading consumers.
Here is snapshot of what FDA said in their letter:
Unapproved New Drug
Based on claims made on your product’s label, we have determined that your Cheerios® Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is promoted for conditions that cause it to be a drug because the product is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease. Specifically, your Cheerios® product bears the following claims on its label:
• “you can Lower Your Cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks”
• “Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent? Cheerios is … clinically proven to lower cholesterol. A clinical study showed that eating two 1 1/2 cup servings daily of Cheerios cereal reduced bad cholesterol when eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.”
These claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in lowering cholesterol, and therefore in preventing, mitigating, and treating the disease hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, the claims indicate that Cheerios® is intended for use in the treatment, mitigation, and prevention of coronary heart disease through, lowering total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.
You may or may not think this is a big deal, but I can tell you that the FDA takes health claims seriously. There are only certain FDA approved claims that food companies are allowed to make on a product label. In this letter they also included the website as part of the label since the web address www.wholegrainnation.com is listed there. So that means that everything on the website also needs to comply with the official FDA health claims.
Cheerios is a great cereal that is low in sugar and has soluble fiber. I am sure they will correct their language to comply with the FDA’s request and this will blow over. Keep eating your Cheerios with low fat milk and a handful of blueberries. Yum!
This post, Cheerios: A Drug?, was originally published on
Healthine.com by Brian Westphal.