Do You Really Need Dietary Supplements?

Ads abound for products that claim to treat or prevent serious health conditions. Unfortunately, these products often are unproven and useless. Sometimes the ads even make false promises for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – diseases for which science has no cure.

In March 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to certain companies making unproven claims that their products can treat or cure Alzheimer’s or other diseases .Many of these products are sold on websites and social media platforms – and called “dietary supplements” or natural remedies. But that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe.  Products that claim to do it all often do nothing.

The reality is that phony miracle products can be dangerous, and not just because of interactions with medicines you’re already taking. They also might cause you to delay or stop proven medical treatment ordered by – or available from – your physician. They might also delay you from making important dietary and lifestyle changes to help your condition. And some may contain unlabeled and unapproved drugs, which can cause serious injury or death.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  1. Ask students to make a list of credible sources of health information.
  2. Ask students if they, their relatives or friends ever bought a dietary supplement or health-related product that did not work as promised. What action(s) did they take?

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to talk to your healthcare professional before you take any dietary supplements?
  2. What are some of the most effective ways to stay healthy, instead of wasting your money on unproven dietary supplements?

The Supreme Court, Health Care, and You

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made an important decision about the Health Insurance Marketplace keeping           quality, affordable coverage for millions of Americans.  The Supreme Court’s decision confirmed that if you qualify, you can receive financial assistance, including premium tax benefit to make coverage more affordable no matter where you live.

On average, consumers enrolled in the Marketplace are receiving $3,260 per year in tax credit, or $272 each month.

About 8 in 10 consumers could find coverage for $100 or less with tax credit through the Marketplace.

If you don’t have health insurance, see if you can get health coverage for 2015.  You may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to life change, such as marriage, having a baby, or losing other coverage.  Open enrollment for 2016 starts on November 1, 2015.

For more information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students if anyone in their family is affected by the Supreme Court ruling, and if so, how?
  • Ask students to prepare a summary of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to inform the Marketplace about any changes to your household, income, and insurance status?
  2. If you have health insurance through your employer or purchased it on the individual market, does the Supreme Court ruling impact you?

New Health Discovery? The Doctor Oz Effect

In 2015, Lindsey Duncan and the companies he controlled have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they deceptively touted the supposed weight-loss benefits of green coffee bean extract through a campaign that included appearances on The Dr. Oz Show, The View, and other television programs.

Under the FTC settlement the defendants are barred from making deceptive claims about the health benefits or efficacy of any dietary supplement or drug product, and will pay $9 million for consumer redress.

The FTC charged that Duncan and his companies, Pure Health LLC and Genesis Today, Inc. deceptively claimed that the supplement could cause consumers to lose 17 pounds and 16 percent of their body fat in just 12 weeks without diet or exercise, and the claim was backed up by clinical study.  In September 2014, the FTC settled charges against the company that sponsored the severely flawed study that Duncan discussed on Dr. Oz show.

For additional information, go to:

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/01/marketer-who-promoted-green-coffee-bean-weight-loss-supplement

Teaching Suggestions

  • Prepare a list of activities individuals can do to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choose a current issue of Consumer Reports, Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, or other magazines and summarize an article that relates to losing weight.

Discussion Questions

  1. How can you reduce personal health care costs, including losing weight?
  2. Why is it important for consumers to carefully evaluate products?
  3. What are the keys to successful weight loss?

Emergency Department for Routine Care?

A new study, published in March 2015 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, shows that the annual rate of emergency department visits by young adults age 19-25 decreased by 1.4 percent in 2011.  This represents 191,000 fewer emergency department visits by young people in this age group.

For this study, currently the most extensive analysis of its kind, researchers examined more than 17 million emergency department visits between 2007 and 2011 from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample database of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Hospital Cost and Utilization Project.

The Affordable Care Act requires health plans that offer coverage to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.  This has allowed young adults to seek care in the most appropriate setting, reserving costly emergency department use for real emergencies.

For additional information, click here.

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students what else can be done to reduce the high cost of healthcare.
  • What can students do to reduce their own personal healthcare costs?

Discussion Questions

  1. What are several reasons for the rising healthcare expenditures?
  2. Has the Affordable Care Act reduced the costs of healthcare?