Category: Food for Thought

DAA TALKING HEADS: TIME FOR NEW CONVERSATION?

By Marika Sboros

One reason for the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) credibility problem, say critics, is its public face. They say that by default or design, DAA media spokespersons regularly dispense low-fat, high-carb dietary advice that serves the interests of food-industry partners. Such advice also lacks evidence for safety and efficacy to treat or prevent obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

DAA spokespersons also regularly show special antipathy towards Paleo and low-carb diets to treat these conditions, despite growing evidence. As well, some spokespersons are prominent university academics. Thus, critics say this leaves DAA open to a common industry tactic. It is the “halo effect” that results from “eminence-based” rather than evidence-based nutrition information. It helps to embed unhealthy products as healthy in public consciousness

In Part 2 of this series, Foodmed.net takes a look at some of those talking heads. We also look at why critics say that the conversation needs to change.



IS DOWN UNDER’S DAA REALLY IN BED WITH BIG FOOD?

By Marika Sboros

Is the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) in bed with Big Food? It’s nearly two years since US public health lawyer Michele Simon first raised the question. She worded it slightly differently at the time. Her answer was an unequivocal “yes” in And Now A Word From Our Sponsors in February 2015. But has anything changed in the interim?

DAA says that it is not in bed with Big Food now and never has been. It claims that its sponsors – “partners”, it prefers to call them – have no influence on the advice it dishes out.  It also claims to take “great care to guard against conflict of interest”.

Its critics say otherwise. They say that DAA is heavily conflicted and has been for decades. Critics also say that DAA is little more than a front for the food industry. Read on and make up your own mind.



Cyber bullying virus – infection spreads among doctors

By Marika Sboros

cyber bullyingSomething is rotten in the state of nutrition science. In parts, it’s terminally ill. One symptom is cyber bullying. It’s a virus that is infecting doctors and dietitians on an unprecedented scale. These health professionals are also using their associations to spread the virus further and target nutrition experts who challenge conventional nutrition “wisdom”.

They are active on Twitter and Facebook hate pages. Those are toxic and unprofessional environments for doctors and dietitians to inhabit.

Two bloggers have started a series aimed at naming and shaming cyber bullies. It’s rough stuff but could help to stop infection rates. Cyber bullying creates significant collateral damage. It causes depression, even among doctors. It leads victims to kill themselves. Here’s the first in the series.



Kosterich: why this man isn’t Australia’s Public Health Enemy!

Dr Joe Kosterich

Dr Joe Kosterich

Australian physician Dr Joe Kosterich is one of a growing and precious breed Down Under: a doctor with an open heart and mind. Like growing numbers of his colleagues, Kosterich is not in the thrall of drug or food companies. He doesn’t think he’s godlike. He doesn’t whip out a prescription pad every time he sees a patient.  

Kosterich is more interested in health than in sickness.  He has done the unthinkable to more conventional orthodox doctors and dietitians in Australia. He has come out in support of a man they like to say is dangerous. There is even a Facebook page devoted to demonising and ridiculing this man. It was described as a hate page in an Australian government Senate Enquiry. It certainly has all the hallmarks of a hate page. 

Doctors and dietitians who really should know better comment on the page in the most unsavoury, unprofessional way. Some use foul language to denigrate fellow health professionals. So who is this man they desperately want you to believe is Australia’s Public Health Enemy?  Read on to find out who the real threat to public health is in that country. – Marika Sboros



Cannabis: high time South Africa legalises the drug?

cannabisBy Marika Sboros

I would never accuse members of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority (CDA) of smoking cannabis – or “dagga” as it is more popularly known. However, the CDA’s views on drug-law reform suggest they are smoking something.

In the June edition of the SAMJ (South African Medical Journal), executive member Dr Dan Stein had interesting things to say. For starters, the CDA now favours “decriminalisation rather than the legalisation of cannabis” for personal use.  It has vigorously opposed that previously. Now it accepts that alcohol causes more harm globally than cannabis causes.

Those can seem like two big steps forward – or not. Cape Town GP Dr Keith Scott would say: “Not”. In a recent issue of the SAMJ, Scott lights up the debate on the drug’s benefits versus risks.



Chatterjee on curing modern medicine’s sickness

YRangan Chatterjeeou may know Dr Rangan Chatterjee as the star power of the BBC’s Doctor in the House TV series. He is also one of that rare breed in modern medicine: a doctor with an open heart and mind.

Chatterjee has been examining a deadly sickness in medicine today. Its major symptom is doctors who don’t know enough about nutrition. It is about doctors who can’t – or won’t – acknowledge the real root causes of patients’ ill health. Spoiler alert: it’s not a deficiency of drugs.

Here, Chatterjee looks at why doctors need more education. It begins with understanding that ‘the food you eat can be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison’. – Marika Sboros



Alzheimer’s: can right diet prevent it? Sure, here’s how!

tree alzheimersAlzheimer’s is the most common dementia disease and its incidence is rising worldwide. Estimates currently are that nearly 5.5million people in the US alone have Alzheimer’s.

Some specialists like to say the spectre of dementia lies over us all. It’s mostly a function of growing older, they say. Evidence suggests that’s not the case.

Studies  show a powerful link between what you eat and your risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases. Research also shows that the pathway to Alzheimer’s is similar to that leading to type 2 diabetes. That’s why some doctors now call Alzheimer’s as ‘type 3 diabetes’.

In an article in Psychology Today, US psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist Dr Georgia Ede explains why preventing Alzheimer’s disease may be a whole lot easier than you think it is. – Marika Sboros



Medicine’s dirty little secret: ‘drug whore’ doctors

doctors drugs moneyIt’s a very real sickness in medicine. It is doctors in the thrall of the drug industry. It creates what British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra calls ‘an epidemic of misinformed doctors and misinformed patients’. It causes biased research funding  – research funded for profit, not patients’ benefit, says Malhotra. 

It leads to biased reporting in medical journals, commercial conflicts of interest and medical curricula that ‘fail to teach doctors how to understand and communicate health statistics’. This year, for the first time, the US Surgeon General has reprimanded doctors for promoting Big Pharma at patients’ expense.  

At heart, it’s about doctors who flout the Hippocratic oath for a quick buck.  Here, Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung takes a scalpel to expose the scandal of ‘continuing medical education’. He eviscerates doctors who, by default or design, act as agents – pushers, really – for drug companies. He calls them ‘drug whores’. It’s a disturbing read. – Marika Sboros



Oscar Pistorius: the real malady that made him a killer?

Oscar PistoriusHere’s  an updated column I wrote during the trial of South African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  on February 14, 2013. It’s not anything to do with the science around optimum nutrition for body and mind. I just take the broadest possible view of what constitutes food for thought for body and mind.

Pistorius is now serving time in jail for shooting Reeva to death. (The prosecutors are appealing what they have described as the ‘shockingly lenient’ sentence of just six years for murder.) During the trial, Pistorius’ defence team made much of his mental state. The team painted his emotional outbursts and retching in court as signs of a ‘remorseful, heartbroken’ man. 

To me, Pistorius’s own evidence proves he has a very real malady, very different from the one his defence wants us all to believe. It’s one that explains his peculiar behaviour in and out of court: 



Oscar Pistorius: ‘smoking gun’ to prove he’s innocent?

Photo credit: Alex.W via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Updated!  Here’s a column I wrote during Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius’ trial for the murder of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2014. Judge Thokozile Masipa first found him guilty of culpable homicide. The Appeal Court overturned that verdict in 2015 and found him guilty of murder. In 2016, he was back in prison serving a six-year jail sentence for murder.

Pistorius always admitted firing the four shots that ended Reeva’s life behind a locked toilet door in his luxury Pretoria East home. Therefore, this trial was never really a ‘whodunnit’. It was always more of a ‘whydunit’. Here, I reveal a different ‘whodunnit’  altogether: