By National Consumers League staff
What’s a dieter to do? A solid month into the new year, resolutions going strong: counting calories, exercising, avoiding late-night binges.
But the weekend’s just around the corner, and one can only avoid Friday happy hours for so long. Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow you could actually look at any bottle of beer or wine or tequila and find out how many calories or grams of fat are in it?
Have allergies? Wouldn’t it be nice to know the ingredients in what you’re drinking? Counting carbs? Watching your alcohol intake? What’s an info-seeking consumer to do?
Currently, the labeling on beverages containing alcohol is all across the board, with most drinks lacking easy-to-find information about calories, serving sizes, etc. For years, NCL has been asking the federal government to make a change for the positive and better regulate this stuff with a standardized, useful “Alcohol Facts” label. (Think “Nutrition Facts” for beer.)
Here’s our latest call for change.
by Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director
Two activists from the China Labor Watch came to Washington DC January 15, 2008 to speak to the Child Labor Coalition, a national organization of child labor advocates and activists lead by the National Consumers League. Li Qiang, Executive Director of China Labor Watch, and David Shih, executive assistant and translator for Li Qiang, spent an hour with the CLC. Li Qiang described how he came from a union family and worked in factories until he went to law school. He was able to experience personally the exploitation of workers in Chinese factories.
by Tim McNutt, Public Policy Intern
I met Executive Director Sally Greenberg, last fall at the Equal Justice Works Conference, and was so inspired by her energy and optimism, that I decided to take a semester off from my studies at the California Western School of Law to intern at NCL.
As I’ve been settling in at the League, I am awe stricken and inspired by the breadth and magnitude of issues that NCL takes on. Whether it is combating telemarketing fraud, child labor in sweatshops, or the latest predatory trend on dating websites, my new colleagues are zealous advocates for consumers’ rights.
I hope to continue blogging here, and will do my best to give you the scoop on what’s going on at the League.
by Rebecca Burkholder
For many of us, January is a time for change. New diets, new routines, new habits. For some of us, the new year may also see changes to our health insurance plans, which may mean facing the confusing process of switching from one medicine to a similar drug.
So, if you find yourself in this situation, be sure to talk to your doctor what you might expect to see the next time you go to fill your Rx at the pharmacy counter.
- Why am I being switched? Is my current medicine working well?
- Will the new drug work better? Will it lower my costs?
- How can I tell if it is working?
- Will I need to do anything differently – take it more or less often, at different times, or with or without food?
- Are there any side effects? What about interactions with other drugs, dietary supplements, or foods?
In addition to asking questions, you should pay attention to how the new meds are working. Look for changes in symptoms or side effects. Keep track, and tell your doctor what you notice.
The month of January of NCL’s “2008 Consumer Calendar: Do We Have Tips for You!” has more tips, sponsored by Pfizer Inc., to help consumers who may be switching medications.
by NCL Staff
Our friends at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health have just launched an educational campaign—Time to Talk—to encourage the discussion of use. Complementary and alternative meds (CAM) include products and practices such as herbal supplements, meditation, chiropractic care, and acupuncture.
AARP recently teamed up with NCCAM to survey patients over the age of 50, and they found that patients and their physicians aren’t really talking about alternative medicine. It looks like patients don’t know to ask their docs about alternative meds, and physicians aren’t initiating the conversations either. But this doesn’t mean that consumers aren’t using the herbal supplements, and other alternative medicines. The same survey found that nearly two-thirds ARE using it! Continue reading
by NCL staff
As we all pack up for the long weekend and imagine how we’ll use our Monday holiday (a trip to the outlet malls, cleaning out the basement, finally putting away holiday decorations, etc.), we thought it was a nice time to reflect on January 21 and why it’s an important day.
This coming Monday is a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., remembered for his leadership in the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Day became a holiday at the insistence of unions, which King long supported.
Nearly 40 years after his assassination, King’s legacy of nonviolence and social justice lives on. We at NCL hold a special place in our hearts for King and other leaders in social justice over the decades because of our shared history.
NCL was founded more than 100 years ago out of concern for workers and consumers rights in light of the horrendous conditions of sweatshops. NCL’s commitment to social justice – playing an instrumental role in Muller v. Oregon, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld state law protections against overwork by women, has remained over the years. Continue reading
By NCL staff
A lot of moms and dads turn to over the-counter cough and cold medicine when a kid comes down with the sniffles, but according to a public advisory issued today by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), pediatric cough and cold meds are no longer considered safe enough for use in kids under the age of 2.
The safety of those medicines was questioned starting late last summer, with an FDA advisory committee meeting in October. An FDA advisory panel voted 13-9 to not administer the use of cough and cold medicines to children six and under. The FDA has not taken final action on this recommendation.
Manufacturers of the cough and cold products for children under 2 voluntarily withdrew them from pharmacy shelves before the advisory committee even met in the fall. The FDA has made a final decision, affirming the position that cough and cold meds are no longer safe to use in kids two and under. So, in the middle of a tough cold and flu season, what’s a parent to do? Thankfully, there are ways to safely treat our kids’ coughs and colds. And stay tuned for more on this from the FDA in the coming months.
by NCL staff
We recently ran across an advertisement for an insurance company that included this fact: “Hallmark sold 85,000 ‘Happy 100th Birthday!’ cards last year.”
That’s certainly something to think about. The ad also said that the average American is living about 20 years past the age of 65 (87 for women, and 84 for men). That’s a lot of years, post-retirement, that consumers need to plan for, and a recent survey indicates that many seniors aren’t considering basics like health and medical costs when they’re saving for the golden years.
According to a national survey of 1,000 Americans over the age of 65 conducted by Directive Analytics, more than half of retirees (55 percent) have said they completely overlooked their health care and prescription drug needs when planning for retirement expenses, and one in three seniors said their medical or drug costs surpass their expectations, and are taking away from their “golden years” lifestyle.
The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there to help seniors who may be looking for ways to cut their health costs. Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs helps consumers find the most effective and safe drugs with the most value for your dollar. Also, Medco Health Solutions, Inc., is offering a free guide including tips about shopping for Medicare plans, saving on prescription refills, and avoiding medication duplication.
By NCL’s Fraud Center Staff
As if finding true love weren’t difficult enough already, now those who go in search of romance online have to be wary of an increasingly common scam – one that we at NCL’s Fraud Center refer to as “the Sweetheart Swindle.” Scammers are frequenting online dating sites and chat rooms, where they attempt to earn a person’s affections and trust so that they can ultimately persuade him or her to send money.
The Sweetheart Swindle can often be a long, drawn out process. It can take a long time to kindle a relationship in which the victim might actually consider sending this kind of cash. And it may take several attempts to get the victim to send money repeatedly over a period of weeks or even months.
by NCL Staff
To a crowd of reporters and a handful of consumer advocates, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Acting Chairman Nancy Nord yesterday described a new import surveillance system that her agency will implement, pending legislation, at many of America’s ports. Continue reading