Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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Sense About Science: Fad Diets

Ask for EvidenceDiets on the internet: You might as well make them up.

Sense about Science have a new (ish, I’m a bit slow off the mark on this one!) campaign focus – exposing the claims behind fad diets.

Many societies currently have a problem with nutrition. In places where food is abundant, or supermarkets and fast food chains present the main family options, a lot of people are overeating and eating badly. Poverty doesn’t help, and when you already have little money, companies duping people with claims of superhealthy items and food plans are extremely unethical.

The NHS resources are, in my view, the best place to go for a start. To learn about calories, going about losing weight, “hidden” weight-gain causes, asking a GP about getting and keeping a healthy weight and more – really many of these things should be in schools, so equipping people with skills that will last a lifetime and help them to keep healthy, combating challenges such as lack of support at home when children are growing up.

Unfortunately, a combination of culture generally, celebrity following, personal challenges and insufficient regulation of food suppliers often leads to people who are frustrated and find it difficult to keep healthy and happy. Where there are vulnerable people with problems, there are quacks ready to take advantage and make money from them.

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Healthy Evidence Forum

AskforEvidenceNHSchoicesSense About Science have launched a new discussion forum today, called Healthy Evidence:

“We are very pleased to tell you that NHS Choices Behind the Headlines have asked us to partner with them on a new online forum to help people understand the science behind health claims and connect them with expertise. Healthy Evidence is launched today. Join the community here.”

The more people that join and share their insights into the science behind health reporting, the better the resource could become. Collating useful sources can help people judge which information is beneficial rather than bogus, and what’s likely or dubious.

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Poverty Perceptions

I wrote a tweet that pissed some people off, so I better expand upon it, as I knew at the time the fact that I couldn’t fit in “more often than not” would push buttons. But I was in that kind of mood.

It’s because of the latest round of Jamie Oliver bashing, which happens whenever he resurfaces to promote his new book/show/whatever – which is what celebrities do. It’s their job. It’s how they earn a living. Yes, he’s worth millions now but not everyone wants to just sit back once they’ve achieved that, so I don’t really see a problem simply with being a self-publicist.

I’ve defended him before because even though he’s obviously got his flaws – latest comments being no exception – at least he’s tried to do something to help children eat better in the UK. And that is no small thing.

What I’d like to say, though, isn’t really about him, but about some people who have a go at him, and others, when they talk about UK poverty (<60% median income). It’s a complicated topic, and it’s easy to end up with your foot in your mouth, but I do think this is one of those cases where a lot of people throwing stones may also be living in glass houses.

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AMD ain’t no picnic

I’ve been a glutton for punishment again and read the Metro in more detail than is sensible this morning.

I came across this article that appears at first to be telling you that eating paella might stop you developing a debilitating eye disease.

On further reading, it becomes clear that the Metro mentions paella simply because it is made with saffron, the incredibly expensive crocus-derived spice.

Now stop it or you’ll go blind

The reason they’re writing about saffron is apparently due to research suggesting it could protect against AMD – age-related macular degeneration. Now, this is no laughing matter, it’s a very horrible disease that still affects a lot of people (though there have been some fantastic advances in the last decade or so largely due to animal research).

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In the US of A

At the beginning of last month I flew over to Orlando, Florida, with a few colleagues for the American Association of Cancer Research conference.

This is a long-overdue mishmash of my impressions of the tiny bit of the country I’ve now seen – I’ve never been to the states before so it was my first trip over the Atlantic and first immersive experience of our cousins separated from us by a common language across the pond. I’ve got some ranting to do as well. So if you’re looking for something sciencey, not this time!

I enjoyed the long flight actually; watched some films, food was fine. But we had to change at Newark and having been awake for too long already, hanging around the airport was quite dull and then the shorter flight to Orlando was hellish.

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The 3rd Perspective

In the spheres of skepticism and alternative health there are two main perspectives we encounter:

The ‘good’ and the ‘bad’

1)      That of the incredulous skeptic who insists all is bullshit, gets angry at the quacks and tries to stop them peddling rubbish at gullible people.

2)      The alt med proponents; be they sellers or consumers, they aggressively try to persuade you that it works and big pharma/your doctor are lying to you and the global conspiracy has suppressed all the ‘natural cures’.

Of course there are various severities of those views, stronger and milder, but they’re the most prominent types.

The Ugly?

However, there is a point of view that receives less attention. The sufferers of chronic incurable conditions whose friends and family, often merely out of care and concern, insist on telling them about this or that treatment/remedy/ritual/product that will make them better or even cure them.

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ByeBye Canters

29 December 2005,17:10

Bit of Jamie Oliver love, don’t read on if you’re of a sensitive disposition.

Tomorrow I am hopefully off to Birmingham, just hoping there won’t be a giant blizzard that stops the trains altogether. I am expecting a slow ride.
So, in conclusion to yesterdays rantings – when my dad got home and was told he’d set the bin on fire, it was met with “oh” and from mum “no, not ‘oh’, you could’ve killed her, she was sitting concentrating on her revision (I was!)” at which point he wanders off rolling his eyes and shuts himself in the lounge as usual. So it’s nice to know that he clearly doesn’t give a damn if I inhale copious amounts of toxic fumes unknowingly but also can’t even apologise. Great.

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