T Nation

Law, Exercise and Health

Okay, everyone makes this plea time and time again, but I could use some advice on this one.

Here’s the thing. I’m writing for one of the Law Journals here at the University of MN. It’s called the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science and Technology. Anyway, I have about a week to come up with a topic.

I’m thinking along the lines of supplements and whether regulations on these (and other diets/drugs) are determined by science or by politics and the implications of that.

Okay, I know that’s too broad and will need some work, but here’s what I could use everyone else’s help in.

I’m looking for additional focus on my one idea, or for recommendations for other ideas. The key is that it must deal with policy, science, and law/regulation. It also has to be serious enough to make it on to an official law journal. This isn’t some Op-Ed piece for the school paper. I want this thing to be published.

So if you know of anything such as law and obesity, food/nutrition issues, or other issues that have some type of scientific connection, let me hear it.

If TC or Shugart have got some ideas or comments on the approval process for supplements/products that I might want to comment on, that would be cool too.

Who knows, maybe if we can come up with something someone out there somewhere will take a different look at this issue when setting policy.

It seems as if you could go with epehedra or steroids pretty easily – especially the classification of steroids as “controlled substances”.

What is the history behind that classification? Motivations? Congressional record? How does the record of the Congressional testimony and the committee reports mesh with the science behind the substances? Or wash it the FDA who did that (I’m not sure)? Then there is the admin law analysis. How do steroids, substances that do not seem to fit with other controlled substances in terms of “mind altering” effects, fit into the drug war?

What about non-governmental regulations pertaining to the same substances? Any constitutional due process implications from non-governmental (or quasi-governmental, depending on your analysis) bodies like the NCAA or Olympic committee, or even pro sports leagues, banning players for positive tests? Or any liability issues for failing to ban players (Major League Baseball)?

That’s just off the top of my head, but hope it’s helpful.

What about going along the line of what the government can do to offset the obesity epidemic in this country? Especially that recently obiesty has been rated as an official disease. Ideas I seen are:
1.) Fitness and nutrition education in the classromm for the kids since that’s where it starts.
2.) Nutrition classes for doctors in their medical program since they don’t have a clue.
3.) Fitness and nutrition classes for adults in these continuing education programs you always see.
4.)Health club dues deductable on your tax return, or paid by employers.
5.)A fat tax. Any product that has more than 800 mg of sodium, 10 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of saturated fat should be accessed a tax like cigerettes.
6.) Making trainers a highly sought career by changing the way they are compensated. Working on commission sucks. Trainers should get a decent salary so they don’t have to be sales people and concentrate on the total health of a client.
7.)Recognizing holistic practioners as just important as traditional medicine. Example, insurance should cover massages.Another example, a combo practice where you have a doctor, trainer, nutritionist, chiro, etc under one roof.

Are any of these applicable to what you are looking for? They have been concerns of mine for years.

[quote]Cory089 wrote:
I’m thinking along the lines of supplements and whether regulations on these (and other diets/drugs) are determined by science or by politics and the implications of that.[/quote]

I think BB’s spot-on with the ephedra idea, although I’d exert more effort in the direction of ephedra’s use as a precursor to methamphetamine. Was ephedra taken off the market for its own health risks, or to make life difficult for clandestine meth labs?

Another thing you might want to look at is the unregulated nature of the supplement industry, and whether the industry (and its customers) benefit more from this lack of regulation than the general public would benefit from tighter controls. The prohormone controversy slots into this well, as does the ephedra issue, although there’s less opportunity to ask what the “real” motivation behind the ephedra ban might be.

BB and Darklock both gave good suggestions. Another would be the recent addition of obesity as a disease covered under Medicaid. On a related note, you could look at cases where obese people sued for discrimination. I don’t know if that’s “scientific” enough for your journal. I haven’t read any of these types of cases myself or done any research into this area, but my guess is that obesity cases would most likely be brought statutes that prohibit discrimination based on disability (check the state cases as some states may interpret their own statutes in ways that differ from interpretations of the ADA). I’m further guessing that in order to support their cases, attorneys representing obese plaintiffs may have presented some scientific evidence that their clients’ obesity was due to physiological or even psychological conditions that were beyond their control, and thus their obesity is a “disability.”

Check out FSCN 1013: Dietary Supplements: scientific, regulatory, and cultural aspects. Linda Brady is teaching it this fall, I would email her.