HEALTH

CIGNA launches health risk analysis program

BY Michael Johnsen

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. CIGNA HealthCare, a medical benefit plan provider that covers 47 million worldwide, on Tuesday launched a “next generation” health assessment and predictive capabilities tool that will enable consumers to identify risky health behaviors and take recommended courses of action in an effort to avoid higher healthcare bills in the future.

CIGNA has coupled these capabilities with an online health coaching program in the areas of sleep, stress, nutrition and physical activity to help motivate and support people to address these risks.

Based on more than 30 years of research by Professor Dee Edington and researchers at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center, the system, called the Trend Management System, analyzes an individual’s responses and clusters them into four main categories: low risk, risk-taking, biometric and psychological. It is programmed to recognize 34 dangerous risk combinations and predict—with an accuracy rating of 83 percent—how likely an individual is to face health problems that could lead to high health care costs in the next few years.

The analytics can help identify in priority order those risks or behaviors that an individual should address to prevent future health issues. The analytics also rank order individuals to help CIGNA better identify which individuals should be offered health coaching first, and help coaches determine the best approach to take to address an individual’s health issues.

“Taking a health assessment can be a good way to help people think about how their lifestyle could impact their health today and in the future,” stated Keith Dixon, president of CIGNA’s health solutions unit. “But the key to better health is action. That’s why our new health assessment system, online coaching courses and entire suite of health programs focus on helping people take action, week by week, one small step at a time, to make changes that will have lasting impact.”

According to a recent CIGNA survey, 87 percent of people reported they would value getting information that can predict risk for developing health problems, and 94 percent said they would be motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes if the assessment showed they were at medium or high risk for developing health problems.

CIGNA’s online or paper health assessment is an extensive yet simple questionnaire that asks an individual a variety of biometric, health and lifestyle questions. Included are topics such as blood pressure and cholesterol; smoking, exercise and sleep habits; diet and alcohol consumption; perception of health and stress; quality of life issues; seatbelt use and other behaviors; and questions about dental care, medications and vaccinations, and how illness and other factors have affected productivity and time off from work.

The system immediately creates a personal health assessment profile, which displays an overall wellness score from 50 to 100 and identifies the top three risks most likely to affect the individual within the next few years. The report offers recommended behavior changes to reduce the risks, and also tells individuals what they’re doing well right now.

Then, based on individual results, some are immediately and proactively invited to participate in one or more six- to eight-week online coaching programs focused on stress, sleep, nutrition or physical activity. Others are invited to participate in one-on-one coaching or counseling. The system, along with the existing CIGNA suite of services, provides the most appropriate action for each individual.

For a brief video demonstration of the health assessment tool and online coaching courses, visit www.cigna.com/hrademo

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FDA siezes more than $1.3 million in LG Sciences’ dietary supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. In a move that may show Congress and public that the Food and Drug Administration is already effectively regulating both dietary supplements and the potential contamination of those supplements with steroids, the FDA last week seized more than $1.3 million in dietary supplements from LG Sciences of Brighton, Mich. because the products contained unapproved ingredients. The specific ingredients were not identified by the agency.

Labeled as dietary supplements, the products are marketed for use by body builders . under the brand names “Methyl 1-D,” “Methyl 1-D XL,” and “Formadrol Extreme XL.”

“The FDA takes seriously its responsibility to protect Americans from unsafe dietary supplements,” stated Margaret Glavin, FDA’s associate commissioner of the Office of Regulatory Affairs. “[Last week’s] action shows FDA’s commitment to protecting consumers from potentially harmful products.”

“Working with the FDA, we are taking prompt civil action to protect the public health by seizing these illegal products and forestalling their shipment into the stream of commerce in any manner that could create harm to the public,” stated U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy.

The FDA has not received scientific information on the safety of the seized products and cannot determine, at this time, whether they represent a hazard to consumers, the agency reported.

In March 2006, the FDA warned Legal Gear (the predecessor of LG Sciences) to cease distribution of a different product that was marketed as a dietary supplement but was actually an unapproved new drug containing synthetic steroids.

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AM Nutritionals launches TheraFizz energy drink packets

BY Michael Johnsen

DAYTON, N.J. AM Nutritionals on Saturday announced the launch of TheraFizz Energy, a citrus-flavored drink packaged in a powder packet.

Each packet contains 8 calories and vitamins B and C, green tea, guarana and amino acids.

TheraFizz Energy is available at most Rite-Aid locations and 7 Eleven, the company reported.

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