Observations MEDIA WATCH

Tell us the truth about nutritionists

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39118.546308.59 (Published 08 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:292
  1. Ben Goldacre, doctor and writer, London (ben@badscience.net)

    Media nutritionism distracts us from social inequality and the real causes of ill health

    They're certainly keen to praise themselves, but if you really wanted to do some primary prevention work in the community, would you start with the media nutritionists? The answer, for reasons of increasing seriousness, is no.

    Firstly, to anyone who's interested in science, it's simply offensive to find newspapers and television channels filled with people who adopt a cloak of scientific authority while apparently misunderstanding the most basic aspects of biology. “Dr” Gillian McKeith has a non-accredited correspondence course doctorate from the United States and a primetime show on Channel 4 television. She writes that sprouting seeds contain “all the nutritional energy necessary to make a fully grown plant” and that chlorophyll is “high in oxygen,” and she recommends that you eat “lots of dark green leaves, because they will really oxygenate your blood.”

    As any 14 year old biology student could tell you, plants only make oxygen in light: it's very dark in your bowel; and even if, to prove a point, you put a searchlight up your bottom, you probably wouldn't absorb too much oxygen through the gut …

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