Monday, February 20, 2006

Did UCLA accept money from Herbalife?

Apparently so. The Mark Hughes Cellular and Molecular Nutrition Laboratory, a division of the Center for Human Nutrition, UCLA David Geffin School of Medicine, is named for Herbalife’s founder. UCLA professor of medicine and public health David Heber, M.D. PhD, F.A.C.P., F.A.C.N lent his good name to the company by assuming the chair of Herbalife’s Scientific Advisory Board at about the same time Herbalife donated $3 million to the UCLA center according to this report from It also seemed to dovetail with the promotion of Herber’s book The L.A. Shape Diet which, according to the Forbes piece, recommends one of Herbalife’s signature products. A win-win situation.

The UCLA center’s nutrition syllabus appears to be a mix of good and bad information. Examples of dubious claims include: a “suggestion” that vitamin E be supplemented in doses of up to 400 IU/day (despite lack of evidence of benefit as assessed in multiple studies and a suggestion of increased risk for heart failure in the HOPE trial); the claim that vitamin C lowers cardiovascular risk; statements that vitamins B12 and B6 and folic acid lower homocysteine levels in patients with cardiovascular disease (they may in certain patients, but the statement is deceptive in that recent evidence contraindicates routine supplementation in patients with cardiovascular disease); and the nebulous claim that echinacea boosts the immune system.

Here’s a critical expose on Herbalife from MLMwatch. This Wikipedia article profiles the history of Herbalife and its multilevel marketing practices.


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