Monthly Archives: January 2009

Tim Minchin Is Generous: See His Own Non-Pirate Storm: Updated

Tim Minchin has gallantly responded to the poor-quality pirate version of Storm and uploaded his own version of Storm as performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in December. The musical accompaniment is excellent.


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Science: So What? campaign overplays the evidence on childhood nutrition and health

It’s great to see the government making an effort to get people talking about science with the Science: So What? campaign.  However, we were disappointed to see them overstating the evidence on childhood health and obesity.  Along with lots of other interesting, accurate information about nutrition, the campaign site says that:

long-running research involving hundreds of children has now decisively proven, for the first time, the direct link between infant diet and later obesity. It’s a fact: babies who eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable have a significantly reduced risk of obesity in later life.

Unfortunately, the site does not include references to the research it is discussing, so we can’t be sure which article/s they mean. However, we can be confident that research has not shown such a ‘direct link’. Continue reading

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The Curse of the Monkey’s Paw Lives On – Poor Dr John Marks

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they would find it comforting to believe that well-respected medical authorities and scientists endorse Patrick Holford’s work and lend it scientific credibility by association. What does Biocare think of Patrick Holford clinging to endorsements from Dr John Marks and Professor Andre Tylee, so long after they have made it clear that they wish him to stop trading on their names? Continue reading

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Sue Arnold Praises Patrick Holford’s How to Quit, in the Guardian

There are times, Virginia, when it’s all I can do, just to keep from breaking down. It’s not April 1 yet, somehow, Sue Arnold has put up a review of Patrick Holford and David Miller’s How to Quit in the Guardian. Gullibility exudes from every syllable, so one shrugs when Arnold reveals that she followed some EST and personal awareness courses that have left her “permanently scarred”. Sadly, she seems to have learned nothing from this encounter with people who are well-intentioned but lack an evidence-base for their enthusiasms. Continue reading

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Filed under addiction, How to Quit Without Feeling S**t, patrick holford, supplements

Totally Nourish using Food Intolerance Week to advertise Maharani ‘gluten free rice’

cat looking at hedgehog

Although Holford is currently hoping to collaborate with an (as yet unknown to us) university – to (try to) research treatments for schizophrenia – we are not impressed by his learning. Given that we pulled apart the advertising of Maharani rice as “gluten free” almost a week ago, it is now disappointing to be forwarded an e-mail from Biocare’s Totally Nourish urging readers to:

Try Maharani rice this Food Intolerance week…Originating from Karnal in Northern India, this best kept secret has a wealth of benefits…Healthy. With a low Glycaemic Index (52) and no gluten, this rice has all the goodness normally associated with brown rice.

As we have said, rice is naturally gluten-free (this is why rice flour is used in some gluten-free products). Rice will only contain gluten if this is deliberately added during processing, or if there is accidental contamination. It is, already, difficult and expensive enough to eat a gluten-free diet: the last thing that people on this diet need is to be convinced that they need to eat special rice which sells for £5.99/kg.

The low GI of the rice is definitely interesting (although not massively different from basmati rice).  52 is impressive for something which only needs 20 minutes of cooking: GI sometimes increases with the duration of cooking. We have contacted Maharani Rice to ask which lab they used to test this, and will await the response with interest.

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Barry Groves’ Second Opinions website loses honcode accreditation

Following the Telegraph and Victoria Lambert’s credulous coverage of the ‘nutritionist’ Barry Groves’ beliefs about diet, we submitted a complaint to the Health on the Net Foundation – who had certified Groves’ site Second Opinions site as Hon Code compliant. The Health on the Net Foundation have now marked the certification of this site as ‘invalid’. Continue reading

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Patrick Holford Is Selling Gluten-Free Rice – Eh?

Totally Nourish Misleading text for Maharani Rice
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they believe that he enhances their reputation and scientific credibility despite his recent egregious claim that “conventional medicine doesn’t have a very good track record“. However, he and his crack team of IONistas have been making some remarkable errors lately that are undermining the public understanding of even basic nutrition. It is difficult to know what Biocare makes of the recent claim in Patrick Holford’s 100%health newsletter that chicken drumstick and thigh are leaner than chicken breast and that the latter has a lower glycaemic load (both claims are best characterised as nonsense on stilts). We thought that the misinformation about chicken presented a new low but we were mistaken. Patrick Holford and mega-dosing, fish-oil replete, antioxidant-abundant team of IONistas[a] want to sell you rice. Not just any rice, Maharani rice that can justify its £5.99 per kg price tag because it is gluten-free and has a glycaemic index (GI) of 52. Excellent. Except that rice is already gluten-free unless you have added something to it and basmati rice has a GI of 58 which is not dramatically different. Continue reading

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Patrick Holford: “conventional medicine, doesn’t have a very good track record”

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they believe that he enhances their reputation and scientific credibility. Holford regularly presents himself as a fearless advocate for scientific accuracy and rigour and the bringer of unpleasant truths. Despite an abundance of evidence to the contrary, he is so convinced of his own competence that Holford regularly accuses others of inaccuracy and questions the integrity of leading researchers such as Professor Carolyn Summerbell (we should point out that Holford was in error, not Summerbell). Holford usually does all this under the guise of a plucky underdog and gadfly to medicine so it’s not surpising that he has recently claimed that “conventional medicine, doesn’t have a very good track record”. Continue reading

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Filed under Ben Goldacre, blood sugar, patrick holford, yorktest

Holford and Burne’s Food is Better Medicine than Drugs is “packed with sound science and statistics”, according to the Daily Mail

Lydia Slater, writing in the Daily Mail, argues that Burne and Holford’s book Food is Better Medicine than Drugs is one of the “best of the New Year diet books”. It claims that the book is “packed with sound science and statistics” and advises that it is “Great for…people with chronic conditions”.

We would beg to differ, having gone through this book in frankly rather tedious detail but still failed to adequately cover the errors contained within. Continue reading

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Durham fish oil (non)trial: when is a control group not a control group?

In response to a FOIA request, Durham has told us about another significant flaw in their fish oil (non)trial: the ‘treatment’ arm was students with more than 80% reported compliance with supplementation with Equazen fish oil pills; the ‘control groups was selected from any students with less than 80% reported compliance. This means that – while a student with 80% reported compliance could have counted as an example of the success of this ‘treatment’ – a student with 79% reported compliance could have been compared to them as part of the ‘control group’.

I am really not sure what to say Continue reading

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