BMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7152.222 (Published 18 July 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:222

Giving up smoking is easier in pairs, according to a randomised controlled trial in this month's issue of Addiction(1998;93:1007-11). Smokers recruited by mailshot were randomised to a “quitting buddy” or normal treatment in a smokers' clinic in London. The buddies did better, but still only a quarter managed to abstain for four weeks. Presumably even fewer will succeed in quitting for more than a year.

Giving up overeating can be just as challenging, and for children good parental support seems to be the key. In a randomised controlled trial of 60 obese children, slimming was more successful if the weight loss programme was directed entirely by the parents, relieving children of all responsibility for their eating and exercise habits (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition1998;67:1130-5). Interestingly, fathers, but not mothers, also lost weight.

Readers with information overload might like to redistribute some of it to the Postgraduate Medical Academy in St Petersburg, an institution desperate for medical journals. If so, they should contact Sheila Lemoine, coordinator of a yearly journals aid scheme based in Manchester, United Kingdom (tel 0161 998 3937).

Affairs between psychiatrists and their trainees are apparently common, usually ethical, but often conducted in …

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