Monday, February 05, 2007

'Beat Your Risk' Super Bowl Ad Pitiful Attempt To Bamboozle The Public

Did you see the heart "attacked" in a Super Bowl commercial?

The biggest television event of the year annually is the Super Bowl and 2007 was no different. After the Indianapolis Colts triumphantly defeated the Chicago Bears by the score of 29-17 in the 41st edition of the National Football League championship game on Sunday night, the ratings were absolutely astonishing as always: 42.0 RATING/63 SHARE for CBS.

But it's not just the football game that attracts those tens of millions of people to tune in. There's also the pomp and circumstance of a over-hyped event (that's exactly what the Super Bowl is), the high-profile entertainment (well, Billy Joel and Prince haven't gotten this much publicity in nearly two decades), and, of course, the Super Bowl commercials!

That's right, admit it! Most of us watch the Super Bowl for the advertisements, not necessarily the football game (although last night's was a pretty good one despite the many turnovers that happened because of the pouring down rain throughout the game).

For the most part, the ads stunk to high heaven with only a few exceptions--the David Letterman/Oprah Winfrey one cracked me up. But I had to explain to my wife Christine who the woman was sitting next to Letterman. "It's OPRAH?," she asked. Yep, that was her! ROTFL!

I also liked the Blockbuster video ad with the little mouse that was...well, you can watch it for yourself...

TOO CUTE! In a sea of truly terrible commercials, though, there was another one that stuck out like a sore thumb in light of what I do here at my blog daily. It was the man bebopping around wearing a costume of a "HEART" who is stalked by various men wearing signs on their back such as "HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE," "OVERWEIGHT," "DIABETES," and "HIGH CHOLESTEROL." I kept waiting to see what exactly they were promoting because no product was ever mentioned during the ad.

At the end when the "HEART" has been thoroughly beat up and thrown against a brick wall, you are finally directed to go to to find out more information about how to keep your heart from being beat up like the one in the commercial did. In teeny tiny little print that you could only see in the last second of the commercial, you notice this convenient little "public service annoucement" about taking care of your heart is compliments of--WHAT ELSE!--a pharmaceutical company!

More specifically, it's from King Pharmaceuticals which has their Super Bowl ad proudly posted at their web site for all the world to see. In case you missed it or if you simply want to refamiliarize yourself with it, then watch it again RIGHT NOW...

Okay, interesting visual for people to take away from a thirty second spot, wouldn't you say? Here's the message: your heart is at risk of getting "beat up" by a series of criminal-like health villains which you need protection from. Is that about right? But it begs the question, what do you need to do to counter these attacks against your heart, hmmm?

That's where comes into play.

So, I go there to check out the site for myself knowing full well it was funded by King Pharmaceuticals who must have some vested interest in a new drug they hope will help them to rake in tons of money on the perceived threat to your heart from having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes (even if there are ways to protect your heart naturally that doesn't involved expensive and risky prescription medications).

You also couldn't help but notice the other sponsors of the site: Omron, makers of blood pressure and other health indicator equipment (makes sense!), Coricidin HBC, an over-the-counter cold medicine without decongestants which is dangerous for people with hypertension because it can raise blood pressure (again, makes TOTAL sense!), and the BIGGEST BOY of them all among the sponsors--The American Heart Association (AHA)!

Yes, that's the same AHA that has been wishy-washy on dietary recommendations especially regarding fat intake as well as pretending they want to do something about childhood obesity by pushing for removing junk food from public schools. Hmmm, I wonder what they are going to recommend people need to do to improve the health of their heart?

Well, let's just see for ourselves.

When you click on the "LEARN YOUR RISK" button at, you get taken to a separate screen that assesses your risk factors based on the blood pressure information you provide them about your gender, age, height, weight, and BMI. They give you a preliminary diagnosis about your specific health risks tied to your blood pressure.

Then, in the next section you are asked to input certain lifestyle changes you would be willing to make to try to lower your blood pressure and, thus, any associated heart health risks. They include weight loss, increased physical activity, and then there's this one--"Eating a 'healthy' diet."

Do you know what they mean by that? Here's a direct quote:

"A 'healthy' diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. It is low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol."

ARGH! The neverending fixation on reducing and eliminating total and saturated fat intake as part of a "healthy" diet is why I have described it as subjectively senile! There are so many health benefits to consuming fat that I have blogged about so often, I won't bother repeating them all again now. If you want to learn more about it, then go Google it!

Obviously, trans fats should be avoided, but dietary cholesterol is not necessary to avoid since it has not been found to raise cholesterol levels. That is another one of those commonly-held beliefs that people have been suckered into believing. It's just not true as has been explained many times before by many of the leading voices in the low-carb community.

Additionally, there were two other "lifestyle changes" to allegedly lower your blood pressure--limit alcohol use to no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day for men and 1 alcoholic drink per day for women and eating a "lower-salt diet."

Here's what they had to say about reducing salt intake:

"A lower-salt diet means eating less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, including sodium in prepared foods. That is the same amount of sodium as found in 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of table salt."

Sigh. Unless you are salt-sensitive (and it just so happens that I am!), there is no reason why you should watch your salt intake. An overwhelming majority have no reason to cut down on their salt intake. NONE! The fact that a minority of the population has sensitivity to salt should not make this a universal recommendation.

And yet it is.

If you included information that you would not lower your salt intake or change to their idea of a "healthy" diet, then the recommendation is for you to consider taking a prescription medicine (Ah ha, now we see the King Pharmaceuticals connection!). When you click on the link provided for suggested drugs to consider taking to lower your blood pressure, then you will be taken to the homepage for ALTACE®, an ACE inhibitor designed to lower blood pressure in senior citizens who have diabetes and another risk factor, heart disease, a previous heart attack, a previous stroke, or peripheral vascular disease.

What are the known side effects to this drug ALTACE®?

- swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, which could cause extremely serious risk and requires immediate medical care
- low blood sugar in patients taking it with diabetes medicines for diabetes
- persistent dry cough, dizziness, and light-headedness due to low blood pressure

EEEK! So, your speech will be slurred from the swollen tongue, you'll pass out from the self-induced hypoglycemia this drug causes, and stay dizzy from lowering your blood pressure too much. UGH! Somebody help me understand why you would want to do this to yourself?

Guess who makes this latest wonder drug? It's King Pharmaceuticals--gee, what a surprise! So why didn't they just come out in their Super Bowl ad and tell the public they were peddling ALTACE® rather than this cutesy little fake PSA for heart health? They aren't all that interested in educating people about improving their risks for heart disease as much as they are in selling another drug.

They absolutely have a right to market their drugs however they see fit and I'm sure the drug can help some people who have extraordinarily high blood pressure that will not come down through natural means. But how many people will be prescribed this medicine who don't really need it? That's what drives me bonkers about any new drug introduced to the market--everybody and their momma can take it!

To me, this is yet another pitiful attempt to bamboozle the public under the guise of showing people how to "beat your risk." Perhaps companies like King Pharmaceuticals should start with telling the truth about what they are doing in something as prominent as a Super Bowl ad and then people may be more apt to trust the information you are trying to communicate! Hiding who and what you are does not help with your credibility one bit.

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