The Motley Fool's health-care show Market Checkup focuses this week on cholesterol, one of America's most notable health-care concerns.
According to the CDC, approximately 71 million Americans have high cholesterol, and less than 50% actually get treated. High levels of LDL cholesterol, commonly known as "bad" cholesterol, can lead to dangerous health problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure. In this week's show, health-care analysts David Williamson and Max Macaluso discuss the leading cholesterol drugs on the market and in development, but they kick off their discussion with a look back at one of the strangest battles in history: FDA vs. Cheerios.
In 2009, the FDA sent a letter to General Mills (NYSE: GIS ) warning that marketing Cheerios as a product that could lower cholesterol meant that the popular breakfast cereal would have to go through the drug approval process. While investors weren't worried by the news (looking at historical prices, shares of General Mills were about flat after the warning letter became public), and the company was able to sort out this problem, it certainly helped the FDA distinguish between foods and drugs that have a proven therapeutic benefit.
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