Anti-detox brigade mock Paltrow

Predictably, the New Year has begun with attacks on detox diets. Needless to say, high profile celebrity programmes, such as that created by Gwyneth Paltrow, are being targeted with the most venom. Taking a look at Gwyneth’s “Annual Goop Detox”, we found ourselves heartened by the creativity of the ‘cooking from scratch’ recipes, and impressed by the diversity of the phytonutrient-rich ingredients. Too much of today’s eating consists of industrialised, inappropriate, junk food and over-processed, over-packaged, ready meals, all of which fuel inflammation, obesity and chronic disease. So we say, good going Gwynnie, for your creative, inspiring suggestions that are kind to over-indulged bodies whilst still tantalising enough for discerning taste buds!

A pill to tackle obesity

Scientists have developed an ‘imaginary meal’ pill that tricks the body into believing it has consumed a large amount of calories. Early tests of the drug, fexaramine, on mice have shown an effective halt in weight gain, lowered cholesterol, controlled blood sugar, and a reduced level of unhealthy white fat. Unlike other appetite suppressing drugs, this one apparently works only in the gut and doesn’t diffuse into the blood stream, raising expectations that it will be safer with fewer side effects. The research was published in Nature Medicine and is thought to be an improvement on other appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs as it only functions in the gut and does not dissolve into the blood. The scientists working to set up clinical trials that will test the drug's effectiveness in human patients believe that the drug would work in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes to combat obesity.

Hold off on the low fat, high carb diet!

In his recent article, ‘Why high fat diet studies on rats and mice are not to be trusted’, Jerome Burne explores the notion of the high fat, low carb (HFLC) diet and compares it to the high carb option advised by many. He ponders why the work done on rodents consistently shows that high fat diets lead to obesity and diabetes, while research on humans finds they do the opposite. Burne mentions an article from the University of California Davis Health System, which says that although rodent studies provide the foundation for much of the belief that high fat diets are detrimental to health, most are inaccurately portrayed. Co-author, Craig Warden, says, “The bottom line is, unless the studies we do on mice are appropriately designed, we can't use the information to give people recommendations on diet.” Burne also picks up on the fact that the rodents used are selected specifically to put on weight and raise glucose in response to a high fat diet — something that he describes as “a gross distortion of the research.” He suggests that until the high fat diet studies on rodents are more transparent, take all results with a very large pinch of salt.

Fluoride critics slam new law

Anti-fluoride campaigners in New Zealand have described a move by the Ministry of Health to stop fluoride being legally defined as a medicine as a "sinister" move. The law was pushed through over the Christmas period and will validate the councils' power to add the chemical to drinking water. David Sloan, the director of anti-fluoridation lobby group New Health New Zealand, sought a judicial review against the Attorney General, arguing that fluoride was subject to the Medicines Act. The deadline for public submissions to stop fluoride being legally defined as a medicine is this Friday and a request to extend the timeframe outside of the Christmas and New Year period has been dismissed by the Ministry of Health. Sloan commented, “We're a voluntary organisation and all have jobs, so to expect us to put together a good submission in that timeframe is terrible. This is kind of a sinister move by the Ministry of Health."

Anti vaccination campaigner touted as dangerous

American osteopath, Dr Sherri Tenpenny, is being described as being an extremist and is being accused of spreading a message that could end lives – that message being about the potential dangers of vaccinations. She is set to deliver six seminars around Australia in March 2015 that promise to help parents “make some crucial decisions which could determine your child’s future health and wellbeing”. She will be joined by another American anti-vaccine activist, Norma Erickson, and a homoeopathic practitioner from Victoria, Isaac Golden. However the tour is prompting calls for the immigration department to deny the activist a visa. Members of Stop the AVN (Anti Vaccine Network), a pro-vaccine lobby group, have begun a letter-writing campaign to politicians and venues due to host the seminars. Peter Tierney, from SAVN, said, “It is extremely concerning that Tenpenny is coming here to misinform parents, she is rabidly anti-vaccine and venues might not know what their motives are. She is a public health menace.”

Flawed Canadian smart meter program costs billions

Ontario’s auditor general has reported that a flawed smart meter program has left Canadian consumers paying billions of dollars extra for electricity. Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli disputed the auditor’s conclusions, suggesting her numbers were inaccurate because she didn’t understand the “complex” electricity system. The leaders of opposition parties described Chiarelli’s reaction to the report as “unprecedented” arrogance. Interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson said, “Billions and billions of dollars piled up and what do they do? Turn around and say the auditor isn’t accurate.” He also believes that Mr. Chiarelli should resign, “you’ve been ripping off consumers and someone’s head has to fall for it.” New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Andrea Horwath called the auditor’s report “troubling” and said the government should take it seriously.

Autism parents failed by the system in UK

Dr. Carole Buckley of the Royal College of GPs believes that parents of autistic children are being failed by the system. She says, “If we treated people in wheelchairs the way we treat people with autism, we’d be in court – because we’re not making the reasonable adjustments and we’re not managing things as well as we should.” 1 in 100 people in the UK have autism and parents of autistic children say it’s “scary and sometimes you feel very alone – the child is labelled and then what? Nothing.” The Royal College of GPs recognises that the delay in diagnosis is a problem and has launched a 3-year training programme to make doctors more aware of the condition and the problems associated with it.

Cut back children's sugar

UK Health officials believe children are consuming more sugar than they should and have launched a new media campaign to encourage parents to make radical cuts. National director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), Professor Kevin Fenton, said, "Reducing sugar intake is important for the health of our children both now and in the future. We are all eating too much sugar and the impact this has on our health is evident.” Unfortunately, the campaign is encouraging parents to swap sugary drinks for sugar-free options, but it also educates on more positive substitutes, i.e. ice cream for yogurt, or biscuits and cake for fruit. This concern stems from the Epidemiology Programme for England finding tooth decay caused by sugar as one of the most common reasons for hospital admissions in children aged five to nine in 2012-13, more than one in five (22.5%) children in reception class being classified as overweight or obese in 2013/14, and over a third (33.5%) of those in year 6 were overweight or obese in 2013/14.


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