Category Archives: Holford

Holford Diet site’s interesting take on Cochrane Review

Holford has had varied engagements with Cochrane Reviews, so we were interested to see the Holford Diet site – which promotes a low glycaemic load (LGL) diet plus supplements – celebrating one Review’s alleged finding that

a low GL diet is more effective than any other diet for weight loss and improving overall health…’Overweight or obese people lost more weight on a low Glycemic Load diet and had more improvements in lipid profiles than those receiving conventional diets.’

However, on looking at the Review itself we noted that it did not distinguish between LGL and low glycaemic index (LGI) diets. This was a review of

Randomised controlled trials comparing a low glycaemic index or load diet (LGI) with a higher glycaemic index or load diet or other diet (Cdiet) in overweight or obese people.

The review found some evidence that LGI and LGL diets can be especially beneficial, but did not aim to find whether an LGI or LGL diet was best. Given that this was a review of only six trials involving only 202 participants, this seems a sensible decision.

While it is nice to see a Holford site referring to such good quality sources, it is a shame that the Review could not have been reported more accurately.

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Patrick Holford Claims More People Die, Prematurely, From Cardiovascular Disease Than Actually Die, Prematurely, From All Causes

Patrick Holford on ITV Lunchtime 16 April 2008
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare. Despite the imprimatur of respectability about these confidence-inspiring titles, from time to time, there are disappointing errors in the content of Holford’s health advice and sales pitches for home tests and the evidence base for supplements. These errors are all the more dispiriting when one recalls that he was corrected about some of them more than two years ago. We don’t mean differences of opinion, we mean verifiable, checkable facts. When Holford persuades people to rely upon his opinion and lend credence to it because he undertakes to do the scientific research and interpret it for them then it seems inappropriate to claim that more people died, prematurely, from a specific cause than actually died, prematurely, from all causes. Continue reading


Filed under Holford, home test, hometesting, homocysteine, patrick holford, supplements

Seriously, What Do They Teach at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition Judging by the IONistas in the Public Eye?

What do they teach people at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition? When the founder of one’s alma mater is Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford this might, occasionally, give one pause as to exactly what is taught to the aspiring cohorts of students of nutritionism. Patrick Holford set up the Institute of Optimum Nutrition as a limited company, back when he was in such a state of despair as to the disparity between his own auto-didact expertise and that of people who had actually studied the topic for several decades and researched it in rigorous detail, that he felt that he had no option but to set up his own institute of learning to spread his own special take on nutritionism throughout the tranche of gullible like-minded, well-heeled seekers after knowledge. Continue reading


Filed under Ben Goldacre, Holford, institute of optimum nutrition, ION, nutrition, nutritionists, patrick holford

Ben Goldacre’s Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists on Radio 4 Won a Norwich Union Medical Journalism Award

HolfordWatch enjoyed Dr Ben Goldacre and Rami Tzabar’s 2-parter on The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists on Radio 4 (see update for MP3 links). We thought that it was an interesting exploration of the scientific rhetoric that is intended to lend respectability to nutritionism, and its adherents. Visiting Professor Patrick Holford was included as a notable example of a self-styled nutritionists who distorts research and reduces it to what was characterised as ‘a low and somewhat tabloid-y level of discourse’ with a hefty dose of promotion for supplements. We’ve just learned that it won the Norwich Union Healthcare Medical Journalism Award for National Radio, 2008. Continue reading

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Food for the Brain, Russell Partnership and Universities That Should Know Better: Updated

The Economist recently carried an article that reports a Food for the Brain conference and it linked to the charity, lending it some share of respectability. So, it is with bassoon notes of incompetence and inevitability that we learn of some Food for the Brain literature that has made its way into a café in Imperial College, London. Our sources tell us that, to date, no students have complained about the leaflet although there are 300 medical students, 200 biology students and many students of other science disciplines. So, either they thought it was an elaborate po-mo joke and they weren’t rising to it (if you’re at Imperial, there’s probably a good chance that you are already doing something right, vis-à-vis, using the brain well, studying efficiently) and dismissed it as yet another badly-written polemic by some interest group or other (actually…). Continue reading


Filed under Ben Goldacre, Food for the brain, Food for the brain foundation, Holford, Jerome Burne, patrick holford

The Advertising Standards Authority May Be Closing Some Loopholes: About Time

HolfordWatch would like to direct your attention to a news item: YouTube virals must play by US ad rules: UK advertising rules may change to close loophole.[a] We have blogged several ASA rulings that involve Patrick Holford and Equazen where the ASA has found that their advertising is untruthful, unsubstantiated etc. and yet, these breaches of advertising guidelines continue. We have remarked upon how very frustrating it is that it is possible to find a form of words in breach of guidelines when it is printed in a brochure or reproduced in a Google Ad or Sponsored Link but there is no redress against untruths and distortions when they are on a company’s own website. That may be about to change. Continue reading


Filed under Food for the brain, Holford, patrick holford, supplements

Does Patrick Holford Lack Generosity of Spirit As Well As Scholarly Accuracy?

Visiting Professor Patrick Holford has his own dedicated chapter in Ben Goldacre‘s Bad Science: Chapter 9; pp 161-80. Both HolfordWatch and Holford Myths have commented that the CV which Holford submitted to the University of Teesside is riddled with a remarkable number of errors, several of which involve implausible timelines. Today, an outraged reader has submitted more evidence of confusion about Holford’s understanding of time as well as the evidence-base for chromium supplementation to “to stabilise blood sugar levels”. Continue reading


Filed under Ben Goldacre, Holford, patrick holford, supplements

Canard-ridden Holford interview in National Health Executive Review

Food for the Brain seem very pleased about an embarrassingly poor quality interview with Holford in National Health Executive (PDF): a journal targeted at senior health managers. Food for the Brain have sent out an e-mail to their mailing list to proudly plug this piece. However, the questions are frankly rather odd, and Holford is allowed:

  • to bask in the glory of a Associate Parliamentary Forum report on diet, mental health and behaviour (despite the fact that the report failed to mention his work or that of Food for the Brain)
  • to cast aspersions on the nutritional knowledge of qualified health professionals
  • to accuse healthcare professionals of being biased against nutrition due to the role of pharmaceutical industry funding although Holford himself works for a company part-owned by Elder Pharmaceuticals, and accepted £464,000 from Neutrahealth.

It also looks like the NHE takes pay-to-print articles which might or might not explain the appearance of an article that reads like an extended advertorial for Food for the Brain and Holford. Continue reading


Filed under Food for the brain, Holford, patrick holford, supplements

Who Wrote About Food for the Brain in The Economist: Conflict of Interest?

In a recent burst of autobiographical disclosure and outrage I posted The Economist: The End of a Childhood Illusion.

I can’t begin to describe my disappointment that The Economist somehow veered from its olympian standards and published a piece of such gob-smacking credulity that I was left waiting for the volte-face punchline that didn’t come. More extraordinary is the fact that The Economist links to Food for the Brain (FFTB) and lends its gravitas to that organisation by carrying this article about its recent conference (you may recall the awfulness of the lamentable Food for the Brain Child Survey 2007, details in further reading).

Treatment on a plate displays shoddy scholarship that is a strong warning sign that there is either a substantial misunderstanding or an undisclosed conflict of interest: this is not typical of The Economist…which makes this article all the more dispiriting.

Thanks to an impeccable source, we have learned the identity of the writer. Continue reading


Filed under Food for the brain, Holford, Jerome Burne, patrick holford, supplements

When Constipation Becomes a National Pastime or Why Japan Is An Awful Warning to Us All

It is a cliché that certain generations and demographics in the UK are obsessed by their bowel movements. However, for what probably seem like tremendously good reasons of public health, Times Educational Supplement has revealed that Japan Toilet Institute has successfully introduced a campaign about their special interest into schools in Japan. Continue reading


Filed under children, Holford, patrick holford