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Debunking fatty myths

Tim Gill, executive officer of the Australian and NZ Obesity Society, has some comments to add to the recent Crikey story on the so-called “obesity epidemic myth”. “Tim Olds’ analysis of childhood obesity trends raises more questions than it answers and is similar to previous analyses by the same author on dietary intake and physical […]

Some more thoughts about medical ghostwriting

In December, I wrote this story for Crikey about the practice of ghostwriting – whereby undisclosed parties, typically drug companies, are involved in writing and orchestrating medical journal articles. Croakey contributors subsquently noted some of the evidence suggesting this practice is worryingly widespread. Now Dr Chris Jordens, from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Values, […]

Inside Gaza’s hospitals

To get a broader perspective on the problems of the Australian health system, take a moment to read this disturbing account from The Lancet’s Global Health Network. Hatem Shurrab, an aid worker with Islamic Relief, describes how close Gaza hospitals are to collapsing and being unable to provide even basic services to the injured and […]

Looking beyond the pecs: Obama and global health

Now that we’ve finished salivating over the presidential pecs, [youtube][/youtube] it’s time to turn to more cerebral issues, like what might Barack Obama’s election mean for global health? Two European public health experts – Bernd Rechel and Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – ponder this question in an editorial […]

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Debate and discussion about health issues and policy

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Unintended consequences and the baby bonus

It’s entirely understandable that politicians and bureaucrats are keen to sell new policies that they’re developing or implementing. They want to persuade us, and perhaps even themselves, that they’re doing the right thing. But perhaps there should be a mandatory step in the process: to insist that the question be asked of any new program […]

Is the media a health hazard?

When I look back at my 20-odd years as a health reporter, there are many things I wish I’d done better or differently (including winning more fights with news editors). So I am very sympathetic to concerns about the media’s coverage of health that are raised by a senior US health policy journalist, Susan Dentzer, […]

What’s really scary about the latest sunscreen scare story

It’s the slow-news, silly season, it’s summer…and it’s the perfect time for pitching advertising dressed up as news, especially if it involves scare stories about sunscreens. And so we have suffered a rash of “news” stories this week in which Perth toxicologist Peter Dingle sounds a loud alarm about nasty chemicals in sunscreens. He appeared […]

Why the ghostwriters are sending shivers up medical spines

It’s extremely likely that a number of Australian medicos suffered some uncomfortable “there but for the grace of God go I” moments this week. The immediate cause of their discomfort was the New York Times revelation that Wyeth had paid ghostwriters to produce medical journal articles favourable to its hormone replacement therapy product. Dozens of […]

Paul Smith investigates the Australian Crime Commission’s activities in the NT

Paul Smith, the political editor of Australian Doctor magazine, has been investigating the Australian Crime Commission’s operations in NT Indigenous communities: Last month the Australian Crime Commission – usually tagged by journalists as the nation’s most powerful crime fighting body – fell foul of the law for the second time in the space of eight […]

What you don’t know (but should) about complementary medicines: Dr Ken Harvey

Dr Ken Harvey writes: Two important research reports on the complementary medicines information needs of Australian consumers and health professionals are now available from the National Prescribing Service (NPS). In my view, the NPS research highlights the gap between the widespread and increasing use of complementary medicines and the limited evidence available to justify much […]