Intended for healthcare professionals


Dishing the dirt

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 01 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:58
  1. Martyn R Partridge, consultant physician
  1. London

    Eat Dirt, Channel 4, 20 June at 9 pm

    Eat Dirt, Channel 4's recent documentary on asthma, tackled the science behind the rise in this disease in the West. The crucial cause, it suggested, is dirt—or rather the lack of it in our daily lives.

    Starting with a historical perspective, the programme linked the dramatic fall in infant mortality over the past century to a reduction in overcrowding, cleaner water, and better sewage facilities. It then showed how, more recently, the advertising industry has pressurised mothers into believing that cleanliness is next to godliness and that their children need protection from the bugs lurking everywhere. The need “to kill all known germs dead” is screamed from billboards, radios, and televisions.

    Just as there has been a trend towards an environment containing fewer microbes, an opposite trend has …

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