Tag Archives: fda

Concerning Levels of Arsenic Found in Rice: FDA Conducting Full Investigation

Consumer Reports released a study this week regarding an investigation into arsenic levels in rice. After testing more than 60 rice products, the organization found there were “worrisome” levels of arsenic in all products.

Rice is the number one food source of arsenic in human diets, reportedly containing five times more than oatmeal.

Arsenic is an element found in nature and in man-made products, including various types of pesticides, according to My Health News Daily.

Because it is in the soil, plants absorb arsenic when they grow, which explains how it gets into our food products.

Because Consumer Reports detected “worrisome” levels of arsenic have been detected in our foods, experts are warning consumers to take caution, especially warning parents not to give more than one serving per day of infant rice cereal to their children.

Following the Consumer Reports investigation, which rested 60 rice products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is conducting its own full study and has already tested more than 200 rice products. Various products have included rice cereals and beverages, and the FDA has already found traces of arsenic in all products. In total, more than 1,000 products will be tested over the course of a year. (more…)

Energy Drinks Under Investigation by New York State Attorney General: Is it Worth the Fight?

By Rachel Berman, RD Director of Nutrition at CalorieCount.com

Just as the new school year is getting underway and students everywhere are looking for a pick-me-up to stay focused in class, the NY State Attorney General announced his investigation of energy drinks and the safety of their caffeine levels. You might remember a couple of years ago when the USDA forced removal of products from the marketplace, such as Four Loko, which added caffeine to alcohol. They deemed it unsafe since caffeine masks the depressant qualities of alcohol and people who mix the two are more likely to binge drink, according to studies.

However, it seems like there’s a new product appearing every week touting its ability to keep you awake and energized. Energy drinks are a billion-dollar industry, the fastest growing segment of the beverage market, and they generally contain caffeine, other plant based supplements, simple sugars and additives to achieve their goal. According to the CDC, about one-third of teenage Americans consume energy drinks. But the problem is that the drinks are considered dietary supplements and therefore aren’t tightly regulated by the FDA like other foods and beverages. So can energy drinks be bad for your health?

Cap the caffeine

The caffeine content listed on energy drinks doesn’t usually exceed the recommended 400 mg per day for adult. However, if you’re downing more than one or mixing with coffee, soda, and other caffeinated beverages, you might be getting more than you need. The FDA recognizes caffeine as a drug and regulates the amount found in carbonated soft drinks, but not in energy drinks. Too much caffeine can cause increased heart beat, interrupted sleep, irritability, and nervousness. In addition, some studies have found that high caffeine content in energy drinks results in irregular heart beat and increased blood pressure. (more…)

Vitamins and Supplements Not as Safe as We Think, Study Finds

Vitamins and supplements have long been tied to health benefits and disease prevention, but a new study from Consumer Reports would suggests otherwise, saying there’s a dark side to natural supplements we may not realize. The study highlights supplement-related incidents including adverse reactions, misleading advertising, and even an increase in diseases that some pills claim to treat.

Some of the most worrisome news is that not only are some supplements not all-natural as they claim to be, but they could also be laced with prescription drugs. These prescriptions can interfere with other drugs and cause kidney failure, a stroke, or even death.

Most supplements recalled had the same ingredients as prescriptions marketed for weight loss, bodybuilding, and sexual enhancement. Consumers wanting a natural alternative to Viagra, for example, may be buying an herbal remedy that’s spiked with the same active ingredient used in Viagra – sildenafil.

This problem recently showed up in the 2012 Olympic games when bodybuilder Hysen Palaku was barred from competing after testing positive for steroids. The Albanian said he only took herbal supplements and was unaware they contained a drug.


Petition the FDA to Add Sugar in Teaspoons to Nutrition Labels

Be honest, do you read nutrition labels? I have to admit I read them more and more in a quest for better health. I try to pay attention to sodium, sugar, fat and calories and I’m especially focused on the ingredient list. These labels hold the key to the ingredients within the foods we eat and are often more telling of the quality of food than the often confusing nutrition facts.

As Americans we don’t follow the metric system, so understanding the number of grams of various elements in our food can prove difficult; for some it can make the information downright useless. To make that label even more relevant, there is a petition circulating at Change.org requesting that the FDA add the number of teaspoons of sugar to the “per serving” section on nutrition labels. They currently have 117 of 18,000 desired signatures.

Implementing this idea can help greatly with understanding just how much sugar is in the foods you are considering. Added sugar is one of many catalysts in the current levels of obesity we see throughout the country.

To see how helpful this change might be, I asked our resident registered dietician Mary Hartley if reflecting sugar measurements in teaspoons would be beneficial. “Yes it would be helpful if added sugar were separated from naturally occurring sugars in fruit, milk and some vegetables,” Mary said. When asked if seeing the sugar content in grams can make a difference in curbing obesity, Mary stated, “Obesity is a multifaceted, complex problem. I would not expect any single intervention to make a big difference, although many small actions do add up. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.” (more…)

RECALL: Cantaloupe from Burch Equipment

UDATED August 23, 2012The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified the southern Indiana farm responsible for producing the cantaloupes linked to the deadly salmonella outbreak that has reportedly infected 178 people in 21 states. Chamberlain Farms of Owensville has been named as one potential source for the outbreak that has killed two people and hospitalized 62 more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, the farm has voluntarily recalled its melons, although the FDA nor the farm have released any information regarding the cause of the contamination. 

Another product recall has happened, so be on the look out for fruit you may have purchased on July 15 or later. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to consumers to avoid eating whole cantaloupes from Burch Equipment LLC, of Faison, North Carolina, because of possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono).

What You Need to Know
The company shipped 580 cases of whole cantaloupes on July 15 that were delivered to retail stores in New York, Maine, and possibly other states. If you have a cantaloupe with a red label and the words “Burch Farms” and referencing PLU #4319, discard it immediately.

The cantaloupes tested positive for L. mono during sampling carried out in New York by the USDA Microbiological Data Program. Following the positive result, on July 28, Burch Equipment issued a voluntary recall of 580 cases of cantaloupes. As of yet, no illnesses have been reported that would be linked to the cantaloupes. (more…)

HealthBuzz July 20: Qsymia Approved, Beige Fat Discovered, and Summer Breakfast Ideas

It’s that time of the week again, the end of it! There is nothing we look forward to more than the weekend. But before we dive in to weekend mode take some time for a dose of healthy news from DIR and our friends. We also have yummy recipes for you to try this weekend!

Eat Like an Olympian With These 3 Olympic-Inspired Smoothies

The Olympic Kitchen shared a few smoothies recipes exclusively with Diets in Review. The smoothies are a healthy balance of proteins, carbs, and fat and can be sweetened to your liking! Hurry and try the smoothies before the 2012 London Games begin! 

Qsymia Approval Delivers Most Potent Weight Loss Drug on the Market

The FDA approved a new weight loss drug this week, the second this summer. The diet pill is the most potent weight loss drug on the market. The creators of Qsymia claim that just one pill a day will help obese individuals lose 10% of their body weight.

The Ultimate Pushups Guide

We created this guide featuring 8 different push-up styles featuring instructions and pictures to help form the perfect pushup no matter how beginner or advanced you are. (more…)

Qsymia Approval Delivers Most Potent Weight Loss Drug on the Market

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the weight loss drug Qsymia, which went through trials as Qnexa. Dr. Oz made it popular before the approval even came, with an episode about the “the silver bullet” diet pill this spring. It’s the second diet drug to be approved by the FDA in 13 years, and the second this summer, following last month’s Lorcaserin approval. It will be the most potent weight loss drug on the market.

The drug was approved by an FDA Advisory Panel by a landslide vote of 20-2 in February, and yesterday the agency announced its final approval of Qsymia. The drug was approved for adults with a (BMI) of 30 or greater, which is categorized as obese, or adults with a BMI of 27 or greater, categorized as overweight, who have at least one obesity-related disease like high blood pressure/hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Vivus, the creators of Qsymia, claim that just one pill a day will suppress the appetite and help obese individuals lose 10 percent of their body weight. The pill is comprised of two drugs that were already on the market in various weight loss drugs – one of which is phentermine, a type of amphetamine that stimulates the nervous system and increases heart rate and blood pressure. It’s used in weight loss drugs to suppress appetite, and is more commonly recognized as the “Phen” in the weight loss drug Fen-Phen, which was yanked from shelves by the FDA in 1997 after being deemed too dangerous for consumption. The other drug is an anti-seizure medication that helps stimulate weight loss.


HealthBuzz July 13: No-Treat Potty Training, Biggest Exercise Mistakes, and Healthy Fruity Drinks

We made it to the end of the week! Pats on the back to everyone. Before you head for the door this weekend, check out some headliners from DIR and our friends. Plus, we have sweet fruit recipes for you to try to stay refreshed all weekend.

Candy-Free Potty Training Should be the Norm, Not the Exception

Rewarding children for good behavior with sweets can lead to obesity and addiction to sugar. Our managing editor potty trained her daughter with words of encouragement and love. Testimony from other parents prove rewarding without sugar shouldn’t be a common practice in households.

6 Weeks to OMG Strikes Controversy with its Unlikely Health Advice

British author Venice A. Fulton promises readers will lose up to 20 pounds in six weeks and get skinnier than all their friends. Fulton’s health advice raises eye brows, but he stands behind the claims because they are backed by clinical research. Take a read and see why the author is stirring the health controversy kettle.

Solving Obesity Requires More Than a Lorcaserin Prescription 

On June 27 the pharmaceutical industry game was changed with the approval of Lorcaserin. Lorcaserin is a new prescription drug used to treat obesity. This isn’t a get skinny fast pill, and thinking a pill will solve the obesity rate is questionable. Our resident pharmacist Dr. Sarah G. Khan weighs in. (more…)

GlaxoSmithKline Will Pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement; Largest Ever

In the largest ever health-care fraud settlement, GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay $3 billion in fines for wrongly promoting prescription drugs and not properly reporting important clinical data.

More specifically, Glaxo is pleading guilty to three misdemeanor charges. It is pleading guilty to marketing the anti-depressant Paxil towards children and Wellbutrin as a weight-loss aid, neither ways ever being approved by the FDA. Promoting uses for a drug that have not been approved by the FDA is illegal and is known as off-label marketing.

The other charges are for not reporting important clinical data on Avandia, a drug used in the treatment of diabetics, between 2001 and 2007.

The three misdemeanor charges included a criminal fine of $1 billion for the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia. The remaining $2 billion is connected to the way sales and marketing practices of several drugs, including the asthma drug Advair, were conducted. (more…)

Diet Pill Belviq Approved; First New Weight Loss Drug in 13 Years

It promises to help patients lose five-to-ten percent of their weight (according to clinical trials) when combined with diet and exercise. But is this what America’s overweight patients really need?

Lorcaserin, the drug name for the prescription diet pill Belviq, was approved by the FDA today, making it the first weight loss drug to receive such approval since Orlistat (Alli) in 1999. This comes just weeks ahead of what is anticipated to be an FDA approval for Qnexa, another weight loss drug.

“In two clinical trials, Lorcaserin helped patients lose 5.8 percent of their body weight after a year. That’s about ten pounds for a 180 pound person. Big deal,” said our resident dietitian Mary Hartley, RD.

The drug works by controlling the appetite by making the brain think its fuller sooner. It’s fared well in clinical trials, and will have to undergo six more studies after its in market to ensure long-term cardiovascular health and to determine Belviq’s risk factor for heart attack and stroke. This makes the in-market patients unassuming guinea pigs, according to Hartley, and that isn’t right.

“The advisory committee decided that the benefits of the drug outweighed the risks heart value problems, but the drug manufacturer was made to conduct post-marketing studies to assess long-term cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke. That makes the patient a guinea pig. No thanks.” (more…)