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Consumer Confidential: Weighty pills, empty containers, junky ads

December 3, 2009 |  9:56 am

Here's your thrill-a-minit Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- The consumer group Public Citizen is calling on federal regulators to ban the weight-loss pill Meridia because a recent study links it to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Meridia is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and is taken by about 250,000 people. The Food and Drug Administration says it's aware of the recent study but is "making no conclusions about the preliminary findings."

-- Have you ever bought something at the supermarket and discovered after you got home that the package seemed about half-empty? Consumer Reports looked into this and found more than a few examples of the phenomenon. For example, it found that One A Day Men's 50+ Advantage vitamins were about 40% empty when they opened the container, and Lay's potato chip bags were only half-filled. Businesses say the contents of packages sometimes settle, leaving empty space. But Consumer Reports wonders if some products aren't in fact "over-packaged" to make it seem as though you're getting more than you really are.

-- If your kid watches the children's TV network Nickelodeon, heads up: A consumer group says about 80% of food commercials on the channel are for foods of poor nutritional quality. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says the food industry is working overtime to push junk food on little ones. But there is some good news: Nickelodeon's track record is better than it was in 2005, when about 90% of food ads were for junk.

-- David Lazarus

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