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A Close Look at NutritionalTest.com
and Its Consultant, "Dr. Bob" Martin

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

The beliefs of Robert C. Martin, D.C., of Scottsdale, Arizona, are reflected on two Web sites. Health Talk describes his credentials and highlights his activities as a radio host. The site links to NutritionalTest.com, which features online tests to determine what nutritional products to buy.

Radio station KFYI which broadcasts "Dr. Bob" Martin's "Health Talk" program on Saturday mornings, describes it as "the only one like it in Arizona, focusing on health care topics that can be addressed naturally, such as allergies, fatigue, headaches, immune system problems, female problems, neck and back pain and so much more." Radio America, which webcasts his program on Sundays, states: "From acne to arthritis, from hair loss to stress aversion, Dr. Bob Martin is YOUR designated driver on the highway to health." After downloading Windows Media Player, a few of his programs can be heard by accessing cached pages of VitalCast: [A, B. C, D]. (If you don't have the software installed, go first to the WindowsMedia site.) His "Strokers" page contains about 75 messages from fans.

Credentials

Who is Dr. Bob? The Health Talk Web site states:

Dr. Bob Martin is a nationally recognized expert in the field of health care. Since the seventies, his extensive contributions to the medical field include founding research organizations and health centers, lecturing across the country, writing for newspapers, and hosting talk shows.

Dr. Bob Martin's impressive credentials include a chiropractic doctorate, a physician licensed in three states and training in the fields of medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, herbology, kinesiology, exercise therapy, and sports medicine.

Dr. Bob Martin has hosted several radio talk shows in the seventies and eighties, "The All About Health Show" and "Health Talk" were highly successful shows in Colorado where they originated. He then moved to Arizona and is currently broadcasting "Health Talk" on 910 AM KFYI in Phoenix. Next, Dr. Bob Martin took "Health Talk" to national syndication as a leading health talk show and established himself as a national alternative medicine and wellness expert. His syndicated program is heard nation wide, in Canada, and now internationally over the Internet! Additionally, Dr. Martin is a board certified Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.) and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine (A.B.A.A.H.P). [1}

What do these credentials mean? Who recognizes his expertise? What research organizations and health centers did he found? What research, if any, did they generate? What "physicians licenses" does or did he hold? Did he attend classes at a recognized medical school? Does he hold a legitimate medical degree? What do his "board certifications" signify? Why aren't his descriptions more specific? Is there something he doesn't want you to know?

With these questions in mind, I sent him an e-mail query asking what degree(s) he holds and where they were obtained. His reply, plus information from other sources, indicates the following:

Mission

NutritionalTest.com is registered to the Nutritional Testing Corporation of 4200 N. Grand Royale Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85259. Martin states that he is a consultant to the company [2]. The Web site states:

Healthy LLC. d.b.a. NutritionalTest.com was born out of a great need and desire of the public to learn more about, and take responsibility for, one's health.

NutritionalTest.com provides consumers with health information and products including, but not limited to, subjective as well as objective health tests and nutritional supplements. We provide a number of tests to select from, that are done in the privacy of your home. Thus, avoiding the hassle, inconvenience, and additional expense of visiting a doctor. Ask yourself, "Are you taking the right nutritional supplements?" Or, are you wasting your money on supplements you don't need? There are ways to find out what your individual requirements are and save you money in the long run. Many people today rely too often on newsletters, magazine articles, or untrained store employees to treat themselves nutritionally. NutritionalTest.com helps take the guess work out of which supplements are right for you!

Unfortunately, most doctors in the United States have little or no training in nutritional science. As a result, a vast majority of the public is unable to obtain information about nutrition and therefore, not benefit by knowing which supplement(s) to take. At NutritionalTest.com our physicians and health expert consultants are required to have extensive training and years of experience in clinical nutrition. This enables us to provide the best and latest nutrition information and testing services today.

Are you ready to take charge of your most precious possession, your health? YOU CAN DO IT! Please click on one of our tests to get started! [4]

Test Results

NutritionalTest.com offers to "take the guesswork out of taking nutrients!" The site's welcoming message states:

Testing for nutritional imbalance or deficiencies is not merely for people who are experiencing some type of symptom or discomfort. Nutritional testing can be invaluable even for healthy people because almost all of us are born with inherited genetic weakness that cause us to be more prone to certain illnesses. We can prevent and even correct many of those weaknesses by taking extra nutrients when necessary. The public health service states in the Surgeon General's report on nutrition that four out of ten leading causes of death in America (Heart Disease, Cancer, Strokes, and Diabetes) are associated with diet and nutrition. Based on this information many health experts believe that other common maladies, infirmities, and illness are caused by nutritional deficiencies [5].

Toward this end, the site offers online anti-aging, osteoporosis, growth hormone, immune system, ADD (attention deficit disorder), cataract, anxiety, sinusitis, fibromyalgia, digestive, thyroid, and vitality. The Vitality Test contains 30 questions that are answered "never," "seldom," "occasionally," "often," or "very often." The other eleven tests are composed of 20 to 25 "yes" or "no" choices. For the more adventurous, Dr. Bob offers a comprehensive digestive test ($495), a mineral and toxic metal test ($195), an adrenal stress test ($249), a salivary hormone test ($295), a nutritional blood analysis ($395), and a free radical test ($59.95, but included in the nutritional blood analysis). He also reassures that "if you have testing of any kind through Nutritional Testing Services, a physician/board certified clinical nutritionist will be doing the analysis and recommending." [6] I assume that this refers to "Dr. Bob."

The online questionnaires focus on eating habits, other lifestyle factors, symptoms, and mood. After checking off some or all of the answers, clicking on the "Click Here For results" button brings up a new page indicating whether the subject has a problem and what should be done about it. It would be possible to design a questionnaire that would help a physician or nutritionist identify areas that should be examined further. No such questionnaire should ever be used as the should used as the sole basis for recommending treatment. "Dr Bob's" questionnaires are worthless because both the answers they generate and the treatment recommendations are absurd. For example, answering "yes" to between one and four of the 25 questions in the "Predictive Anti-Aging/Longevity Test" yields the response:

WARNING:
Mild Free Radical Activity Detected
Your subjective test results indicate that you have the
potential for Mild Aging Syndrome. It is recommended
that you order and take The Free Radical Test
Order Now!

Answering "yes" to any five to ten questions yields a "Moderate Free Radical Activity Detected" warning; and more than ten "yes" answers yields a "severe" warning. "The questions include: "Do you feel your job in society is unrewarding?" "Do you have less than two bowel movements a day?' "Do you have sexual activity less than twice weekly?" Do you worry about having enough money or have ongoing financial worries?" "Do you participate in leisure or social activities less than two times per week?" and "Do you consume at least once per day any of the following: ice cream, soda pop, candy, dessert, junk food?" The free radical test kit is said to resemble a pregnancy test but enable the purchaser to "accurately measure via a urine sample, the need for increased antioxidant supplementation."

On the fibromyalgia test, checking any four of the 20 "yes" responses triggers a response that the test-taker has "mild fibromyalgia" and should take two Bio-Glycozyme Forte tablets at 10:00 AM, two Bio-Glycozyme Forte tablets at 3:00 PM, and three MG-Zyme Forte tablets before going to bed. Ten "yes" responses yields a diagnosis of moderate fibromyalgia, for two more products should be added to the above regimen; and fifteen or more yeses yields a "severe fibromyalgia" diagnosis for which a fifth product should be added. The instructions state that the products can be purchased only by calling (800) 232-3183 and that "Dr. Bob Martin" should be identified as the referring physician. When I phoned, a recorded voice informed me that I had reached D.S.D. International, the Southwest Distributor distributor for Biotics Research Corporation. This company markets primarily through chiropractors. Bio-Glycozyme contains 13 vitamins, 9 minerals, 2 amino acids, 2 enzymes, 6 substances made from animal organs, and a few other ingredients. MG-Zyme contains 100 mg of magnesium.. The current retail cost would be about $1.50 per day for the "mild fibromyalgia" regimen and $5.00 per day for the "severe fibromyalgia regimen. Chiropractors who sell Biotics products through their offices obtain them at 50% of the company's "suggested retail" price. I don't know the arrangement for telephone orders, but I assume that the "referring physician" receives a percentage. You can view the ingredients and prices on the NaturMedicine Web site and clicking on the vitamin links. I do not believe that any of the ingredients in any of these products has any proven value for the treatment of fibromyalgia.

Martin's fibromyalgia test is inaccurate in both directions. Answering yes to the symptoms most typical of fibromyalgia does not seem to count more than checking the symptoms unrelated to the actual condition. The only thing that matters is the number of yes answers. Checking only three of the most characteristic symptoms (multiple tender points, widespread muscle pain, and frequent fatigue will yield "No Fibromyalgia Detected." A person with severe fibromyalgia who checks only nine of the most characteristic symptoms would get a "mild fibromyalgia" response. But checking the symptoms that have nothing to do with fibromyalgia (such as whether you have allergies or nail ridges) can lead to mild or moderate fibromyalgia responses as long as enough of them are checked.

Results that are silly or inconsistent can also be generated with other tests. For example:

The Bottom Line

The tests on NutritionalTest.com yield absurd conclusions and invalid advice. In most of the tests, the number of questions answered yes is far more important than the nature of any of the test-taker's symptoms. Thus, people with significant serious disease may be told that they have nothing significantly wrong, and many with symptoms that reflect the ordinary ups and downs of life may be advised that they are at risk and to buy expensive and unnecessary products. The only sensible advice I found in any of the test results was to seek professional advice if you have a lot of symptoms. But the number of positive responses required to generate such advice was high enough that anyone with any sense would do so anyway.

References

  1. About Dr.Bob. Accessed Feb 18, 2000.
  2. Martin RC. E-mail message, March 2, 2000.
  3. Adams CJ. Letter to Stephen Barrett, M.D. April 6, 2000.
  4. About NutritionalTest.com. Accessed Feb 18, 2000.
  5. Welcome to NutritionalTest.com. Accessed, Feb 18, 2000.
  6. Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed Feb 18, 2000.

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This article was revised on April 10, 2000.