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Concept: Consumer protection


Herbal products available to consumers in the marketplace may be contaminated or substituted with alternative plant species and fillers that are not listed on the labels. According to the World Health Organization, the adulteration of herbal products is a threat to consumer safety. Our research aimed to investigate herbal product integrity and authenticity with the goal of protecting consumers from health risks associated with product substitution and contamination.

Concepts: Organism, Species, Herbalism, DNA barcoding, World Health Organization, Herbal, Consumer protection, Consumer


Numerous consumer health information websites have been developed to provide consumers access to health information. However, lookup search is insufficient for consumers to take full advantage of these rich public information resources. Exploratory search is considered a promising complementary mechanism, but its efficacy has never before been rigorously evaluated for consumer health information retrieval interfaces.

Concepts: Health care, Website, Business, Information retrieval, Consumer protection, Consumer, Information science


Consumers are living longer, creating more pressure on the health system and increasing their requirement for self-care of chronic conditions. Despite rapidly-increasing numbers of mobile health applications (‘apps’) for consumers' self-care, there is a paucity of research into consumer engagement with electronic self-monitoring. This paper presents a qualitative exploration of how health consumers use apps for health monitoring, their perceived benefits from use of health apps, and suggestions for improvement of health apps.

Concepts: Psychology, Medicine, Qualitative research, Quantitative research, Engagement, Consumer protection, Consumer


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genomic testing (PGT) allows individuals to learn about their genetic makeup without going through a physician, but some consumers share their results with their primary care provider (PCP).

Concepts: Psychology, Gene, Genetics, General practitioner, Primary care physician, Consumer protection, Consumer


In consumer food-sensory studies, sorting and closely related methods (for example, projective mapping) have often been applied to large product sets which are complex and fatiguing for panelists. Analysis of sorting by Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) is common, but this method discards relevant individual decisions; analysis by DISTATIS, which accounts for individual differences, is gaining acceptance. This research posits that replication can improve DISTATIS analysis by stabilizing consumer sensory maps, which are often extremely unstable. As a case study a fatiguing product set was sorted: 10 American whiskeys-5 bourbons and 5 ryes-were sorted into groups by 21 consumers over 2 replications. These products were chosen because American whiskeys are some of the most important distilled beverages in today’s market; in particular, “bourbon” (mashbill more than 50% corn) and “rye” (more than 50% rye) whiskeys are important and assumed to be products with distinct sensory attributes. However, there is almost no scientific information about their sensory properties. Data were analyzed using standard and aggregated DISTATIS and MDS. No significant relationship between mashbill and consumer categorization in whiskeys was found; instead, there was evidence of producer and aging effects. aggregated DISTATIS was found to provide more stable results than without replication, and DISTATIS results provided a number of benefits over MDS, including bootstrapped confidence intervals for product separation. In addition, this is the first published evidence that mashbill does not determine sensory properties of American whiskey: bourbons and ryes, while legally distinct, were not separated by consumers.

Concepts: Scientific method, Vodka, Consumer protection, Distilled beverage, Brandy, Whisky, Bourbon whiskey, American whiskey


To review sleep related consumer technologies, including mobile electronic device “apps,” wearable devices, and other technologies. Validation and methodological transparency, the effect on clinical sleep medicine, and various social, legal, and ethical issues are discussed.

Concepts: Engineering, Philosophy, Psychiatry, Bioethics, Justice, Consumer protection


BACKGROUND: New York City recently proposed a restriction to cap the portion size of all sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) sold in food-service establishments at 16 oz (473 mL). One critical question is whether such a policy may disproportionally affect low-income or overweight individuals.Objective: The objective was to determine the demographic characteristics of US individuals potentially affected by a 16-oz portion-size cap on SSBs and the potential effect on caloric intake. DESIGN: We analyzed dietary records from the NHANES 2007-2010. We estimated the proportion of individuals who consumed at least one SSB >16 fluid oz (473 mL) in restaurants by age, household income, and weight status. RESULTS: Of all SSBs >16 oz (473 mL) purchased from food-service establishments, 64.7% were purchased from fast food restaurants, 28.2% from other restaurants, and 4.6% from sports, recreation, and entertainment facilities. On a given day, the policy would affect 7.2% of children and 7.6% of adults. Overweight individuals are more likely to consume these beverages, whereas there was no significant difference between income groups. If 80% of affected consumers choose a 16-oz (473-mL) beverage, the policy would result in a change of -57.6 kcal in each affected consumer aged 2-19 y (95% CI: -65.0, -50.1) and -62.6 kcal in those aged ≥20 y (95% CI: -67.9, -57.4).Conclusion: A policy to cap portion size is likely to result in a modest reduction in excess calories from SSBs, especially among young adults and children who are overweight.

Concepts: Effect, Statistical significance, Affect, Household income in the United States, Calorie, Consumer protection, Drink, Consumer


Professionals face conflicts of interest when they have a personal interest in giving biased advice. Mandatory disclosure-informing consumers of the conflict-is a widely adopted strategy in numerous professions, such as medicine, finance, and accounting. Prior research has shown, however, that such disclosures have little impact on consumer behavior, and can backfire by leading advisors to give even more biased advice. We present results from three experiments with real monetary stakes. These results show that, although disclosure has generally been found to be ineffective for dealing with unavoidable conflicts of interest, it can be beneficial when providers have the ability to avoid conflicts. Mandatory and voluntary disclosure can deter advisors from accepting conflicts of interest so that they have nothing to disclose except the absence of conflicts. We propose that people are averse to being viewed as biased, and that policies designed to activate reputational and ethical concerns will motivate advisors to avoid conflicts of interest.

Concepts: Professional, Typography, Consumer protection, Consumer, Leading


The trade in wildlife products can represent an important source of income for poor people, but also threaten wildlife locally, regionally and internationally. Bushmeat provides livelihoods for hunters, traders and sellers, protein to rural and urban consumers, and has depleted the populations of many tropical forest species. Management interventions can be targeted towards the consumers or suppliers of wildlife products. There has been a general assumption in the bushmeat literature that the urban trade is driven by consumer demand with hunters simply fulfilling this demand. Using the urban bushmeat trade in the city of Kumasi, Ghana, as a case study, we use a range of datasets to explore the processes driving the urban bushmeat trade. We characterise the nature of supply and demand by explicitly considering three market attributes: resource condition, hunter behaviour, and consumer behaviour. Our results suggest that bushmeat resources around Kumasi are becoming increasingly depleted and are unable to meet demand, that hunters move in and out of the trade independently of price signals generated by the market, and that, for the Kumasi bushmeat system, consumption levels are driven not by consumer choice but by shortfalls in supply and consequent price responses. Together, these results indicate that supply-side processes dominate the urban bushmeat trade in Kumasi. This suggests that future management interventions should focus on changing hunter behaviour, although complementary interventions targeting consumer demand are also likely to be necessary in the long term. Our approach represents a structured and repeatable method to assessing market dynamics in information-poor systems. The findings serve as a caution against assuming that wildlife markets are demand driven, and highlight the value of characterising market dynamics to inform appropriate management.

Concepts: Poverty, Supply and demand, Hunting, Consumer protection, Consumer theory, Microeconomics, Market, Bushmeat


Increasing the perception of legal risk via publicized litigation and lobbying for copyright law enforcement has had limited success in reducing unlawful content sharing by the public. We consider the extent to which engaging in file sharing online is motivated by the perceived benefits of this activity as opposed to perceived legal risks. Moreover, we explore moderators of the relationship between perceived risk and perceived benefits; namely, trust in industry and legal regulators, and perceived online anonymity. We examine these questions via a large two-part survey of consumers of music (n = 658) and eBooks (n = 737). We find that perceptions of benefit, but not of legal risk, predict stated file-sharing behavior. An affect heuristic is employed: as perceived benefit increases, perceived risk falls. This relationship is increased under high regulator and industry trust (which actually increases perceived risk in this study) and low anonymity (which also increases perceived risk). We propose that, given the limited impact of perceived legal risk upon unlawful downloading, it would be better for the media industries to target enhancing the perceived benefit and availability of lawful alternatives.

Concepts: Psychology, Law, Perception, Copyright, Consumer protection, File sharing, Digital rights management