Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Cheerios: A Drug?

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 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 by Brian Westphal.

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »