Julian Graves: Not Just Nuts – Dangerously Irresponsible

8th October, 2008 37

So. Today. I had a quite jaw dropping conversation in my local branch of Julian Graves. For my American readers, Julian Graves is a shop that sells large bags of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, food ingredients and confectionery. I quite like them. Low on packaging, low on branding, and excellent value for money for kitchen basics. And they are not too puritanical in their outlook. You can buy enough liquorice [read more…]

Neutrahealth in Trouble

5th October, 2008 8

In the last few days, vitamin pill company Neutrahealth (NUT.L), has seen a precipitous drop in its share price. Its investors look like they believe the company is going to have a difficult time weathering the credit crunch. Neutrahealth is known to us through its involvement with Patrick Holford. He sold his online pill company to them for £464,000. He then joined their team as Head of Science and Education [read more…]

Sip Drink: Unnatural, Unethical, Farcical

16th June, 2008 11

If you were a dodgy plumber or made misleading double glazing adverts, you could expect Trading Standards to fine you and the BBC to make a Rogue Traders programme about your mischief. Make misleading and inaccurate health claims about a ‘health’ drink and the same BBC executives will be forking out license fee money on the product for their expensed lunch with their rocket, cous-cous and feng shui salad. Sip [read more…]

How Life Healthcare Coped with the Terror of an ASA Investigation.

14th May, 2008 32

The Advertising Standards Authority is one of the few regulatory bodies in the UK regularly prepared to tackle the untruthful and unsubstantiated claims made routinely in the alternative health industry. It is also one of the weakest regulatory bodies in the UK. Nothing could highlight that more than how Life Healthcare (trading under the url http://www.reverseageing.com/) dealt with an investigation. Life Healthcare had made an advertising leaflet for a product [read more…]

Natural Disasters, Corporate Nutrition and the Confusopoly of Diet

20th January, 2008 4

The louder a food screams ‘natural’ or ‘healthy’ at you, the further you should run. That is the somewhat counter-intuitive message of Michael Pollan’s essay, Unhappy Meals. Pollan tells us to avoid those food products that come bearing loud health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best. Don’t forget that margarine, one of the first industrial foods to claim that it was [read more…]

The Myths of Patrick Holford

11th January, 2008 26

Bertrand Russel said, What a man believes upon grossly insufficient evidence is an index into his desires — desires of which he himself is often unconscious. If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting [read more…]

Bionetics: Untruthful Quacks, But Still Trading

7th September, 2007 52

There are many laws in the UK that ought to make trading in quackery difficult. In practice though, the laws are often skirted around or side-stepped by careful wording of claims and marketing tactics. Those of us who prefer to pop off a complaint to Trading Standards rather than watch Eastenders find it quite a frustrating business. One of the main problems in the UK is that there is no [read more…]

Dr Ann Walker and Her Neanderthal Theories

12th June, 2007 22

In this story, a supplement industry spokesperson resorts to Creationist ‘Science’ for their evidence to support the ‘crucial’ nature of supplement pills, shows how we should eat like Inuits, without the messy business of catching fish (or dying young), and has a pop at one of the UK’s most respected academics when he dares to point out some herbal gobbledegook. A quackometer refrain is that where you find people saying [read more…]

Holfordism: Understanding Patrick, Optimum Nutrition, and the Nutritionist Industry

10th May, 2007 66

Patrick Holford has built up a very impressive and comprehensive empire; networks of web sites, charities, a college, educational trusts and of course, books, TV shows, supplements sales, and licensing deals. It is a very impressive achievement and it would be hard to argue that Patrick, and his philosophies, did not pretty much dominate the UK nutritionist scene. Some nutritionists might outsell him in book sales, but none have created [read more…]

Quack Word #39: ‘Superfood’

2nd February, 2007 12

Regular listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Womans‘ Hour will have recently heard nutritionist Suzi Grant extolling the virtues of so-called superfoods. Quackery, I say. But what on earth can be wrong with a superfood? Surely eating foods rich in nutrients has nothing to do with quackery, but is just common sense? I don’t think it is quite that simple, and I would contend that anyone using the word ‘superfood‘ is [read more…]

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