SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – April 1999

Healthy = Boring On the day that saw the launch of National School Meals Week, a Gallup poll reveals that 37% of all parents questioned were not currently worried about the contents of their children's diet.

Pill Politics According to Professor Klim McPherson, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the new 'clean bill of health' recently re-awarded to the third generation contraceptive pill may, in fact be misplaced.

Poverty Kills Arguably a more tangible cancer risk than the pill was highlighted this week by the Cancer Research Campaign, that of poverty

More Phoney Fears Government plans to give fast tracking approval to the construction of phone masts have been obstructed this week by a judicial review.

GM Update The GM food debate continues to rage on. In response to an extensive call for the regulation of GM crops a Cabinet committee is set to approve an industry code of practice, non-compliance with which would result in the issue of 'penalty points'.

Picnic in the Park  A picnic in London designed to promote organic food and protest against GM, had to be cancelled last Sunday due to over-subscription.

Eco-Jihad?  Under consideration in the United Arab Emirates this week is the introduction of the death penalty for anyone caught polluting its environment.

Food for Thought In a paper presented at the London International Conference on Eating Disorders, Professor Stunkard from the University of Pennsylvania cited a link between stress and night time snacking.

Cheese Choice? British independent cheese makers this week are lodging complaints against proposed new regulations that will radically affect their ability to produce economically viable, quality cheeses.

Sea, Sand and Sex  Sex is Good for You Sex enthusiasts this week can be reassured that their preferred source of recreation, on a moderate basis only, can actually be beneficial to their health.

Healthy Exercise? Cycling vs Climbing  Technology has come to the rescue of the sedentary lifestyle police. David Allison, a US 'obesity researcher' has linked the television set with the exercise bike.

Wine Benefits Although it is not an new assertion that moderate consumption of wine can reduce the risk of heart disease – the benefits really only applying to those over forty, but encouraging to those in later years – Dr Broustet announced this week in Heart that Cabernet Sauvignon was his grape of choice

More U-Turns  Time magazine recently published an apology for a misinformed health scare diatribe entitled Poisonous Plastics? that appeared in the March 1 edition.

Yo-yo scare A letter to the BMJ, while commending the Minerva’s dentists’ concerns about the potential health hazards to our children’s teeth posed by the humble yo-yo, questions the credibility of their findings based on the contention that "walking the dog" posed a high degree of risk.

Practising Safe Soccer The American Academy of Pediatrics’ sports committee, at a meeting in Chicago next month, is set to warn of the dangers of heading a soccer ball. It intends to encourage coaches of youth teams around the country to exercise caution.

Robo-care In a week in which Age Concern has published figures suggesting that 5% of 65 year olds have been refused medical treatment, Japanese technology brings us Tama…

Fake nails – fashion accessory or real threat? The FDA express concern at the re-emergence of the use of Methyl methacrylate as an acrylic nail builder in beauty salons across the US.

The Gospel according to St Peta A recent advertising campaign deep in the American "bible belt" by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals adds religious weight to their own ideology by claiming that Jesus was in fact a vegetarian.

The bank that likes to say… A new concept in commerce seems set to invade our popular consciousness this week, that of "Organic Banking".

Not just a 'cruelty-free' condom but sex and chocolate at the same time A German manufacturer Condomi launches a vegan-friendly condom that uses cocoa powder rather than milk in the process of latex production.

Just say no It’s official. The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have come to the rescue of couch potatoes everywhere!. Mowing the lawn has a detrimental effect on the environment.

Compensation Culture A report published this week entitled Courting Mistrust suggests that risk-taking and innovation in the UK is being suffocated by a shift toward an Americanised compensation culture.

Problems of Preventative Healthcare It was announced on Wednesday that eleven of the 85 women whose breast screening results had been found to be flawed had died.

In Denial, overweight? Health Survey for England data suggests that 62% of men and 53% of women are overweight, 17% and 20% respectively of whom are obese.

Too Safe? At the inquest into the death of Jennifer Reichardt this week the airbag of her Rover 400, the device designed to prevent collision with the windscreen, was cited as the most likely cause of her fatal head injury.

Let’s drink to your health  German researchers "have determined that wine has a stronger anti-microbial effect than bismuth salicylate, the active ingredient present in many over the counter preparations for gastrointestinal upset." So moderate consumption of alcohol, in particular wine, may actually reduce the risk of ulcers.

Drinking on the National Curriculum  Janet Street-Porter, delivering a speech to the Portman Group, suggested that the policy of alcoholic prohibition to the under 18’s was largely unsuccessful and contended that serious thought should be given to a programme of alcohol education that would instigate a more mature approach to drinking.

GM crops and food  GenetiX Snowball picketed fields owned by Lord de Ramsey, head of the Environment Agency, in protest against his plans to allow GM crop tests on his land. Placards were placed around the property proclaiming the message "Biohazard".

The Pill Scare  Government health advisers, this week, radically re-assessed their advice concerning third generation contraceptive pills. The Committee on Safety of Medicines’ original release, back in 1995, warned women of a potential increased risk of Deep Veined Thrombosis in connection with these drugs and suggested that it would be inadvisable for them to be administered as a first line form of contraception.

Phone Fears Unfounded  The government, the health professionals, the scientific community and the media this week grapple with mixed health messages and the mobile phone. Recent fears, emerging in the last few months, implicate microwave emissions from mobile handsets in an increased risk of short term memory loss, skin complaints, headaches and brain tumour development.

Topical Consumption – Food for Thought  Being Easter, predictably, eggs have made this week’s news. By adding natural supplements to the diets of egg-laying chickens, Scottish scientists claim that the consumption of their nutraceutical "super eggs" actually reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Cholesterol Revisited  Results, published by Dr David Reuben from the University of California, suggested that low cholesterol, when combined with low level of albumin in the blood, may actually constitute a high risk of decline and death in elderly.

Longevity: the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Health Profession.  This week, it would seem, we have much to be thankful for. Our future is in the safe hands of the health promotion industry who have set about the re-allocation of our calendar as a self-celebration of their successes.

The GM Gravy-Train  The ability of GM food to make the headlines appears relatively undiminished. The European Commission have announced Emergency Response Plans to counter the perceived ecological disaster that would ensue should cross pollination occur between ‘natural’ and GM crop strains.

What Next?  A survey of ‘shopping experts’, conducted by Checkout Magazine, predicts a bright future for nutraceuticals, the combination of foodstuffs and medicines.

The Usual Suspects  Other health issues, currently ‘newsworthy’ if not stupefying in their conclusions, include a survey of parental attitudes that ranked the dangers of smoking above those of drug taking, possibly a reflection of the publicity awarded to the assessment of their relative risks.