Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How the now discredited five-a-day fruit & veg quota was made up

It all began with a catchy number and a marketing campaign — not hard science -- just like the "safe" alcohol intake allowances that governments proclaim. Official health advice again shown to be unworthy of trust

It is one of the most successful indoctrinations in modern Britain, filtering into every aspect of public life.

I start my day on a bus decorated with the injunction to eat five-a-day, I drop my son off at a nursery where he learns to count using the Government’s five-a-day fruit and vegetable quota, and at the supermarket it is slapped anywhere it will confer a commercial advantage.

We have swallowed it whole and, when we swallow the five-a-day, we believe we gain a kind of magic protection. Or we did until last week’s news that the biggest study of its kind, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that the reduced cancer risk by eating five-a-day didn’t add up to more than a hill of beans.

This made me a bit queasy. Where did this five-a-day order — promoted by government, the NHS, the American Cancer Society and more than 25 other countries — come from? Fuelled by a two-a-day-diet — ketchup and an olive — I tracked the global health campaign. The trail took me back 25 years, to a woman in California, and left me with little appetite for public health advice.

Full article from The Times here.

And of course we've seen exactly the same pseudo-scientific rubbish peddled here by Healthways in WA, the Cancer Council and an assortment of public health "experts."

My advice to anyone is to basically ignore anything said by the Mike Daubes and Peter Dingles of this world. All too often what you are actually getting is not information soundly based on good science, but self-promoting marketing spin.

Obviously this isn't an injunction to stop eating fresh fruit and vegetables. A balanced diet is an important thing. But there is little in the way of credible evidence that they are going to save you from various cancers etc. Sometimes shit just happens.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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