Review of 2016

These are the topics that I’ve researched and blogged about this year:

January

New Year Resolutions – how to be the 1 in 12. Research shows that just 1 in 12 people achieve New Year Resolutions. What do successful people do that we may be able to learn from?

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were finally published in January 2016. What were the four interesting things about the new guidelines?

Burning off calories (& food labels). On 15 January 2016, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) called for the introduction of ‘activity equivalent’ calorie labelling on food and drink. Such labelling would show how much activity would be required to burn off the calories contained in the food or drink. But would it?

Sugar the evidence. An open page listing a number of studies providing evidence against sugar.

The 8-week blood sugar diet: Dr Michael Mosley. Based on the work of Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University – using VERY low calorie liquid diets to improve blood glucose control.

February

Public Health Collaboration: Doctors are doing it for themselves. This is the only press release I have ever put up as a blog – it announced the launch of the Public Health Collaboration. What and why…

Lowering blood pressure & SPRINT. SPRINT is one of the main studies referenced as justification for prescribing blood pressure lowering medications. It is far from robust.

BMI – from adults to children. Is BMI a good measure? For adults? For children? When letters are sent to parents saying “your child is overweight”, what typical reaction do they get?

The UK diet – then and now. What did people in the UK eat in 1974 and what did they eat in the year 2000? (When records ceased for the UK, as health was devolved into the UK regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.)

Of mice and men. The twitter hashtag has been #mousegate! The story has been quite astonishing in terms of huge claims made on a tiny base of nothing…

March

The evidence for dietary fat guidelines. I was awarded my PhD this week! I passed the viva with virtually no changes, which is as good as it gets. This post summarises what my PhD was about and what it found. Three and a half years work in one post!

Two thirds of Brits on a diet most of the time. A market intelligence company had done a survey on the dieting habits of British people. I looked at the findings in the context of the word “restraint.”

Eatwell Guide. In March 2016, Public Health England changed the Eatwell Plate (or, as I call it, the Eatbadly Plate) to the Eatwell (eatbadly) Guide. I went through what had changed and what was still wrong with the advice.

Eatwell Guide – conflicts of interest. I was the person who uncovered the fake food conflicts behind the just revised (March 2016) UK government dietary advice. No wonder Public Health England doesn’t like me!

April

Global obesity from 1975 to 2014. If you’re looking for trend data on obesity worldwide, look no further.

PCSK9 Inhibitors & Statins.  Statins being attacked, a new ‘statin’ on the market – far more lucrative than statins – were the two events connected?

Dolmio warnings: corporate responsibility or marketing genius? The Mars corporation makes confectionery/candy, pet food and rice/pasta products. In April 2016, Mars cautioned that their pasta sauces shouldn’t be eaten more than once a week. Was this a clever campaign to get non-consumers to eat their sauces once a week or was it a genuine health message, which could spoil sales?

Is a vegan diet the secret to longevity? Seventh Day Adventists, the town of Loma Linda in California, vegans – all are explored in this post.

May

Can Lisa Riley inspire you to achieve success? A British actress was in the news for having achieved spectacular weight loss. What can we all learn from her success?

Lessons from The Biggest Loser. Dr Kevin Hall, obesity researcher, had studied the US programme The Biggest Loser to see what happened to the contestants after the programme finished. This was fascinating!

Types of fat. A short post about dietary fat – hopefully clearing up some myths about this vital substance.

The computer says “take statins“! A bug had been discovered in UK software used by doctors to prescribe statins. An additional 3.3 million people became ‘eligible’ for statins and the number of prescriptions for these disabling drugs increased by 29% between 2007 and 2011. Oh my goodness!

Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. The first publication from the newly formed Public Health Collaboration created quite a storm! This was the essence of the controversy.

Resolving confusion with dietary advice. Why do we so often hear that people are confused by dietary messages? They should’t be – here’s why.

June

World Milk Day. Six interesting factoids about milk to celebrate World Milk Day.

Obesity Injection (Horizon programme). The British Broadcasting Corporation claimed in a documentary that “Fast forward ten years, obesity won’t be a problem. They’ll have the injections, they will be painless, no side-effects and actually really inexpensive and freely available.” Sir Steve Bloom, Professor of Medicine at Imperial College, London. I found this to be a cruel false hope.

The inaugural Public Health Collaboration conference. What were the key messages from this special event?

Eatwell Guide – BJSM Editorial. I had an article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on 13th June 2016. This post shares the key points.

Will whole grains make you live longer? Three articles on whole grains were published in June 2016 – inspiring this note. I went through why the answer to the post question is no!

Children ordering takeaways to school. Headlines were based on a small survey. There were some interesting findings nonetheless.

US and UK dietary advice on fats “should not have been introduced” Part 2. This post is about some of my PhD work – looking for the evidence for the dietary fat guidelines (still looking!)…

July

Can pasta help you to lose weight? An Italian study made this claim after looking at two studies involving approximately 14,000 and 9,000 Italian people in each. Even if pasta and weight are associated, does someone have a lower BMI because they eat more pasta or do they eat more pasta because they have a lower BMI?!

Are we wrong to focus on sugar to try to tackle obesity? A (coca-cola funded) researcher looked at UK food intake data and claimed that they correlated with fat and not sugar. Un-conflicted by a need to keep sugar users happy, I looked at the data and reached different conclusions.

10 Interesting things about vitamin D. The UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) produced a report with new recommendations for vitamin D (still lower than US recommendations – why?) This prompted me to do a 10 vit D factoids post – I hope you enjoy them.

August (7 posts in this month!)

Fixing Dad. The story about Geoff Whitington and sons Anthony and Ian. This is the subject of a book and a film and this post.

Eat lentils, not meat, to live longer. Another epidemiological study. Another one based on the US Nurses’ Health Study and the male Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Another study jumping from association to causation. There were five really interesting other things going on too.

Brits are lying about calorie intake (allegedly). On Monday 8th August 2016 British people woke up to the accusation that we’re basically greedy, lying rascals. A report claimed that we’re eating 1,000 calories a day more than we’re declaring – if that were the case and those calories were more than needed, we’d all be gaining c. 100lb a year! Something didn’t add up.

UK childhood obesity ‘strategy.’ On 18th August 2016 a long awaited childhood obesity strategy was published by the UK government. There were 14 action points. I reviewed them to see if any might actually make a difference.

Exercise: Is a lot more a lot better? A study argued that we should be doing 50-70 metabolic equivalent hours of exercise each week (5-7 times World Health Organisation recommendations)! Before we all had to work out how we would fit anything else into our lives, I took a look at the numbers.

HRT & Breast Cancer.  On 22nd August 2016, women woke up to the headline: “British study finds risk of breast cancer nearly tripled by combined HRT.” This was a really scary headline and it turned out to be scaremongering rather than good science.

Mediterranean Diet better than statins? What’s the Med diet anyway? Association vs causation; absolute vs relative risk – the usual non-sense.

September

The Bradford Hill Criteria. A classic post – one to book mark – when does association become causation? What were the criteria defined for this by Bradford Hill?

The Lancet Statin Study. Another completely one sided article published in the Lancet by the Oxford statin lovers. Another article where the authors refuse to share the data, so I can’t dissect it as I can dissect any other article in any other journal. Another piece of statin non-sense to ignore, therefore, until they share the data (including side effect information) they consistently refuse to share.

Sugar vs. fat conspiracy. This post was about a story in the US media (Sept 2016), based on an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, about the sugar industry having secretly paid for favourable Harvard research. This was during the Ancel Keys/John Yudkin fat vs sugar era. I love a good conspiracy story!

Fitbits’ won’t make you slim, but nor will low-cal diets. There were some striking findings from this study, but none of them had anything to do with groups having a ‘Fitbit’ or not…

October

Mediterranean Diet could prevent 20,000 deaths… ” There were three really interesting learnings from this study: i) we get a detailed definition of what researchers think the Mediterranean Diet is (as opposed to what Mediterranean people actually eat); ii) we get a new (and incomprehensible) way of guessing (estimating) the impact of this made up diet on deaths; and iii) we get an example of the new way of reporting studies/grabbing headlines, which I forecast will end the “20% greater risk “ coverage we have suffered to date.

South Africa Dietary Guidelines. In preparation for the Noakes trial, I reviewed the South African Dietary Guidelines. I was so pleased that I did, as this came up several times during the trial and in my cross-examination.

The HPCSA vs Professor Noakes. I had the honour of being involved as part of the defence team in the nutrition trial of the century: HPCSA vs the legend that is Professor Tim Noakes. This series of posts describes exactly what it was like spending October 2016 in a court room in Cape Town.

The HPCSA vs Professor Noakes – Part 2.

The HPCSA vs Professor Noakes – Part 3.

November

CEBM – Centre for Evidentially Biased Medicine. Someone attacked my research, so I attacked back.

Familial Hypercholesterolemia. One of the most important posts I have written – on open view – have we got FH all wrong?

Dieticians, diabetes and carbohydrates. The lead author of this paper tweeted that “48% of #dietitians advise #type2 #diabetes patients to restrict carbohydrate”, which made me wonder what the other 52% did and what dieticians thought carbohydrate restriction was, so I took a look.

Heart disease: genes vs. lifestyle. This was a review of an article that investigated whether genetic factors could be offset by lifestyle – it proved to be very interesting.

In defence of red meat. I was given five minutes at a conference to defend red meat. This is what I said.

December

Dear Professor Rory Collins. What reply does one get when one asks the Oxford statin team for data?

Naude Low-Carb Review: Mistake or Mischief? This is about the article published in the South African Medical Journal on 2nd December 2016, written by Professor Tim Noakes and me.

A red meat meta-analysis. In the December 2016 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this appeared: “Total red meat intake of ≥0.5 servings/d does not negatively influence cardiovascular disease risk factors: a systemically searched meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” I took a look at it.

Painkillers make you deaf? This was a bizarre epidemiological study, which found an association between taking painkillers (painkiller usage was recorded in 1990 and every 2 years after this) and the answer to the question, posed in 2012, “Do you have a hearing problem?” I kid you not!

 

2 thoughts on “Review of 2016

  • avatar
    January 16, 2018 at 2:05 pm
    Permalink

    Perhaps update the title to 2018… for future searches..

    Reply
    • avatar
      January 16, 2018 at 3:58 pm
      Permalink

      But it’s the posts from 2016?! I did a review for 2017, which became a bit of an index and a few people said they found it really useful, so I’m going back over previous years. 2015 coming soon! :-)

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Zoë Harcombe Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.