What’s in a health claim? Should be a healthy dose of proof
Name a common health concern, and there’s probably a dietary supplement that promises a solution. But when advertised promises aren’t backed up with adequate proof, the Federal Trade Commission sees a problem. The makers of the BrainStrong Adult dietary supplement agreed to settle FTC charges of deceptive advertising for making unsupported health claims about BrainStrong with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. The companies said the product was clinically proven to improve adult memory and would prevent cognitive decline. But the research they cited didn’t support these claims. Under the settlement, the companies can’t claim their products prevent cognitive decline or improve memory unless they have sound scientific proof. They also can’t say those health benefits are clinically proven if that’s not the case.
BrainStrong’s ads — on the internet, national TV and packaging — referred to a “recent clinical study” that set it apart from other supplements, and thousands of people paid about $30 for a 30-day supply of the product. In fact, that particular clinical study found that people who took BrainStrong didn’t show meaningful improvement on memory tests compared to people who took a placebo. What’s more, the study wasn’t designed to test cognitive decline.
Before you start taking any dietary supplement, check with your health care professional. That’s really your best source on whether a supplement is safe for you.