another attempt to curb the worst excesses of the "snake oil" salesmen - those who sell "miracle" cures for things like weight loss and the common cold.
This has been tried before. It has not worked. It may not work this time.
I suppose they have to try but I suspect many people are going to go on believing that wearing an amulet or popping a sugar pill is going to cause them to lose weight or cure their sniffles. Nobody wants to be sick. Those of us who need to lose weight want to do it the easy way. If we have another very serious medical issue we would all like to take a pill and wipe out any trace of it.
I have a sister who has tried to convince my father he should take a protein powder and exercise more. The Senior Cat is 90. He has talked to his doctor who says his present protein intake is excellent for someone his age and that he is generally fit for his age...and yes, the Senior Cat uses the walking machine my sister insisted on. He "walks" for about twenty minutes each day. He gardens and works in his shed. But, my sister still believes he should be taking the protein powder and that I should give our father more protein in his meals.
I am giving him what he tells me he can tolerate, what he feels he can comfortably eat. His eating habits have changed over the years. He eats less than he used to. When he was running a big school he was always on the move. That was years ago.
At my sister's insistence he has ready articles she has given him. He has read articles his doctor has given him. He has read other articles. When he reads he questions. His comprehension goes beyond the surface claims. He knows the difference between "one in ten doctors" and "one in every ten doctors". He has tried explaining this to my sister.
My sister has some medical training. She should know better than to believe some of the claims that are made. She has a serious, indeed very serious, issue with her weight. She is supposedly "dieting" and taking exercise. The former is supposedly being assisted by something that I would not take. There is no medical evidence for the claims it makes - just glowing reports from a select group who have taken it. My sister has perhaps been fooled by the other qualifications of those who promote it. Search the internet and reputable medical sites dismiss all the claims being made. Ben Goldacre, that thorn in the side of snake oil salesmen, would have a field day. I still doubt he would convince my sister because she is already convinced - the other way.
And that is, I think, the problem. People will believe what they want to believe. Some people will believe that something helps even when good medical science - or even just logic - shows the snake oil can have no efficacy at all.
Perhaps though if people have to stop describing their pills, potions and amulets in the terms they now describe them then fewer people will waste their money on them. It will give them more money to buy good food and walking shoes.
I need to lose some weight because I am overweight - but thankfully not obese. I am relying on good food and putting my paws on the pedals.