BBC Radio Oxford broadcast an infomercial for Patrick Holford’s books and his commercial diet programme (transcript below). BBC i) did not invite any experts to discuss Holford’s diet or claims, ii) question whether the ‘free diet trial’ involved purchasing supplements or blood tests iii) ask for details of the ‘science’ that he claims supports his advice. Continue reading
Category Archives: supplements
A Tale of Two WorkForces in the Same Workplace: Different Rules for Dietitians and Nutritionists in the NHS?
Last week the newspapers covered the story of Katie Peck who is both a degree-credentialled nutritionist and a Registered Dietitian. What is particularly interesting about this story is not the nature of some of her advice but that had she been recruited to work as a nutritionist, rather than RD, in her role at an NHS Diabetes Clinic, then there would not have been a hearing involving the Health Professions Council (HPC) and it is plausible that there would be no mechanism to allow scrutiny of the evidence-base for her advice to patients (the hearing has been adjourned until December, Mrs Peck denies any wrong-doing).
So, if you were to dispense some advice that your colleagues claim to lack an appropriate evidence base as an RD, then you might be asked to account for your actions before the HPC. However, if you dispense the same advice as a nutritionist (and, let’s imagine a scenario where this is a BANT rather than Nutrition Therapy Council nutritionist), then the route for challenging the advice is unclear at best. Continue reading
Patrick Holford Claims More People Die, Prematurely, From Cardiovascular Disease Than Actually Die, Prematurely, From All Causes
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
Washington Post carries a thought-provoking and slightly depressing article: Even a Dietitian Can Find It Hard to Craft a Diet That Covers All the Bases. Essentially, even a very experienced Registered Dietitian found it difficult to design a diet that met all the dietary guidelines within 1800 calories (day’s menu for a hypothetical 35-year-old, 5-foot-4-inch woman who weighs 130 pounds and exercises three times a week) and that isn’t taking issues such as affordability into account. Continue reading
UPDATE: There have been significant changes to the Green Party Drug Group’s site following this post, as discussed here. Lots of links in this post are therefore broken. If you would like to see an earlier version of the site (similar to what I blogged about) you can look on archive.org.
When blogging about the Green Party of England and Wales’ health policy, we were accused of “quoting selectively” and “out of context”. I have therefore been looking over health-related aspects of Green policy more closely: in order to offer a broader view. One thing that stood out was their suggestion of various supplements to counteract some of the negative effects of recreational drug use, despite limited evidence for the supplements’ efficacy.
There are certainly evidence-based arguments in favour of the Green aim
to take the drug trade out of criminal control and [make] available in a legal environment
However, it is important to remember that recreational drug use (legal or illegal) comes with certain risks. An important aspect of a harm reduction approach to drug policy is that it works to accurately assess the risks and harms involved. Recommending pills which have not been shown to be effective, in order to treat some of the side effects of drug use, is not helpful. Continue reading
Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare and a busy man. However, he has a little time on his hands since becoming a former Visiting Professor at the University of Teesside so he started a blog on which only paying-subscribers were allowed to comment. Sadly, despite the additional writing practice, Holford’s ability to provide accurate references or even link to the correct paper has not improved. We also have a splendid example of flip-flopping on the value of meta-analyses that is nicely captured in a recent Will Wilkinson summary of David Brooks:
Scientists have discovered X. Mostly X vanquishes my intellectual bugbears and confirms me in my prejudices. To the extent it doesn’t, science isn’t really an authoritative source of wisdom, now is it?
People Successfully Convinced that Healthy Food Is Expensive So Resorting to Supplement Pills: Patrick Holford and Vitazyme
Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so he has a substantial and understandable interest in selling supplements. Creating a large-scale market for supplements depends upon several factors. The factors include convincing people that:
- they have clinical or ‘sub-clinical’ vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- the food that is commonly available and forms their regular diet is deficient in vitamins, minerals and other micro-nutrients
- there is good evidence that supplements improve health or are adequate prophylactics.