HEALTH

Aetna, Pfizer put on health fair to help steer families towards healthy habits

BY Jenna Duncan

HARTFORD, Conn. Aetna has teamed with Pfizer to co-sponsor a health fair for families of the greater Hartford area Oct. 18. The fair is free to the public and is aimed at helping families make wise decisions about eating right, exercise and managing their habits for healthy lifestyles.

Aetna and Pfizer said they are teaming up on health in response to the high rate of obesity among people living in Connecticut—more than half are overweight or obese the companies said. And the numbers have nearly doubled in a short time—since 1990.

Michael Hudson, president of Aetna’s Northeast Region, which covers people in Connecticut, said, “Tackling obesity and the serious health issues it can cause is a primary goal of numerous city, state and national civic and health organizations, but too often we are all working in silos. We are proud to be uniting our efforts in Connecticut through this initiative and working with Pfizer and a number of exceptional community partners to bring the message of good health and physical activity to Hartford’s families. We hope this fair will encourage people to make the small but important lifestyle changes necessary to improve their long-term health and well-being.”

The free health event will run rain or shine from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bushnell Park in Hartford.  

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AHPA disputes FDA’s handling of weight-loss supplement assertions as disease claims

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. The American Herbal Products Association on Wednesday filed a report to the Food and Drug Administration highlighting “serious flaws in the rationale of a Citizen Petition requesting that the FDA treat weight loss claims for dietary supplements as disease claims.”

“The FDA has correctly ruled that claims are allowed for supplements that may have a benefit in assisting normal and overweight persons to lose weight, and that claims for treatment of the disease of obesity are not allowed,” stated AHPA president Michael McGuffin.

“The petitioners’ argument that the FDA was unaware of information presented in their petition when it developed the existing rule is unsupported. It should also be noted that the petition relies to a large degree on data from a consumer survey that had significant flaws in its design, and that has been poorly interpreted by the petitioners,” he added.

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, marketer of non-prescription weight-loss drug alli, filed the petition April 17 along with the American Dietetic Association, the Obesity Society and Shaping America’s Health. The petitioners claim that being overweight, while not a disease in and of itself, is a significant risk factor for other serious diseases. They request that FDA ban dietary supplements from making weight loss claims as structure/function claims under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, and instead require dietary supplement weight loss claims to be limited to FDA-approved health claims.

“If the FDA granted this petition it would contravene Congressional intent and public policy, and would be unconstitutional under the First Amendment,” McGuffin said. “AHPA requests that FDA deny the petition.”

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Vitamin Angels hosts annual fundraiser to benefit world hunger

BY Michael Johnsen

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. Vitamin Angels will host its annual Celebration of Angels fundraiser Oct. 16, at the Harvard Club in Boston, to coincide with the Natural Products Expo East, the organization announced Thursday.

“Vitamin Angels is an intricate part of solving the worldwide hunger problem,” stated founder Howard Schiffer. “This year, with the support of many concerned individuals and companies in the natural product industry we surpassed our goal of reaching 4.5 million children and were able to reach 7 million. … But we can’t stop here. Casting a wider net of awareness will not only elevate Vitamin Angels’ impact but will bring us closer to solving the problem of malnourishment in children under the age of 5.”

Last year, vitamin A was recognized by the United Nations Children’s Fund as one of the key strategies responsible for cutting early childhood deaths to below 10 million per year, a “first” in modern history. Vitamin Angels, is the only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to providing vital nutrition to those in need internationally and domestically.

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