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Editors at large

Richard Hurley: Why the food industry doesn’t find a sugar tax so sweet

15 Apr, 14 | by BMJ

rich_hurleyA flurry of media attention followed England’s Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies’s recent admission that a sugar tax may have to be considered to try to reverse the overweight and obesity that now afflicts a third of UK children.

Such a tax might reduce consumption, the theory goes, by reducing demand for energy dense foods because they would be less affordable. Or it might reduce supply because competition would encourage manufacturers to make their products healthier. more…

Birte Twisselmann: European Union—live

11 Apr, 14 | by BMJ

BirteAs a three-times member of the national judging panel for the UK winner, I was invited to attend the awards ceremony for the EU Health Prize for Journalists 2013, at the European Commission in Brussels on 7-8 April 2014. And in the same way as last year, this meant an intense couple of days with some 60 journalists and jury members from all over Europe, well attended by EU officials, and hosted by the EC’s Directorate-General Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), in its stunning Berlaymont building. The prize is in its fifth year and is given for journalism covering “Europe for patients” themes ranging from cancer and rare diseases to prudent use of antibiotics, mental health, pharmaceuticals, and vaccine scares, to name a few. more…

Rebecca Coombes: Greece’s young reject the Mediterranean diet

26 Feb, 14 | by BMJ

In Athens this week, at a meeting about Europe’s obesity crisis organised by the Greek government, talk is dominated by the expanding waistlines of Europe’s children.

At the event’s smart Hellenic building surrounded by orange trees, and where lunch is veg-heavy and carb-light, it’s hard to believe that Greek’s young are ditching the Mediterranean diet. more…

David Payne: Books for the incurably curious

25 Feb, 14 | by BMJ Group

David Payne When John Keats switched from medicine to poetry he found a different way of healing people, according to Andrew Motion.

Motion, a former poet laureate, attributes his interest in medicine and literature to the Romantic poet, whose biography he wrote in 1997.

Wellcome Book Prize shortlist04Unveiling the shortlist for 2014 Wellcome book prize in London this week, Motion, chair of the judging panel (pictured foreground), described the challenge of choosing a winner from the six medically themed books, which straddle both fiction and non-fiction. more…

Trish Groves: Is Twitter any use for two handed debates?

28 Jan, 14 | by BMJ

trish_groves“Jeez, this is a bit like having a serious conversation on top of a mountain fifteen yards apart in 90mph winds,” tweeted doctor and journalist Ben Goldacre (@bengoldacre). “Yes, and I’m a lousy typist to boot!” hollered back Randy Schekman, Nobel laureate and editor of open access journal eLife (@elife). They were attempting a debate on Twitter (#benandrandy) about scientific publishing, following Professor Shekman’s provocative assertion that “science must break the tyranny of the luxury journals.” It did work, sort of, and other tweeters joined in. E-life summed it up later using Storify, an app that gives you a blank sheet and a feed of tweets, facebook posts, and other links to curate into a linear account; a story. more…

Anita Jain: Predatory publishing and open access fees

8 Jan, 14 | by BMJ

At the meeting of the Indian Association of Medical Journal Editors [IAMJE] in Delhi recently, a session on predatory or non-legitimate journals stimulated considerable discussion.

A sting operation where 157 open access journals accepted a spoof research paper with obvious flaws for publication has brought the problem to the fore again. Some allege that the “author pays to publish” model of open access journals is to blame, as they profiteer from vanity publishing. Predatory journals have existed since much longer however. Online systems have just made it easier to set these up, fuelled further by an ever increasing aspiration to build one’s publication profile. The open access initiative was spurred with the philosophy of removing price barriers to scholarly literature. Nevertheless, converting the ideology into a viable business model for publishers has posed challenges. more…

Zosia Kmietowicz: A funny play about anorexia

19 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

“I’m going to be spontaneous on Tuesday,” declares Josephine, a recovering anorexic in the play Mess. She’s a 20 year old drama student who’s been admitted to hospital after her weight falls below what’s safe.

The line about planning spontaneity is just one that has the audience laughing. But to anyone who has known an anorexic it rings true, summing up perfectly the determination that strikes at the heart of the disease; to stay in control and to do whatever it takes, first to lose weight and then, hopefully, to try to stop thinking about it. more…

Edward Davies: Keep religion in the consulting room

5 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

Edward DaviesFaith and healthcare do not comfortable bedfellows make. The majority of coverage of their convergence is around the tensions and conflict they can cause.

Here in the US, the battleground of contraception coverage is being publicly and aggressively fought between the government and Catholic Church. The BMJ last week published a personal view from an anonymous doctor who described the professional and personal conflict she faced from her desire not to carry out an abortion on religious grounds. One doesn’t have to look far for newspaper articles about doctors who are censured for bringing their faith to their workplace.

And yet there is an essentially spiritual element to much healthcare, particularly in end-of-life care, which is central to the experience of those patients of all religions and none. more…

Kelly Brendel: Experiences of antidepressants—everyone has a story to tell

4 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

kelly“After that life changed dramatically.” “I felt completely flattened, like I’d been hit by a truck.” “It was a kind of cushion from all the horrible feelings.” “I felt like a zombie. I felt like almost stoned.” These are just some of the snatches of experience that provide a glimpse into what life on antidepressants can be like. Taken from Healthtalkonline’s recently launched Experiences of antidepressants, these excerpts are from video interviews with 36 people who shared their own personal stories of antidepressant use to create an information resource for patients, health professionals, and the general public. more…

Navjoyt Ladher on the success of the #hellomynameis campaign

27 Nov, 13 | by BMJ

navjoyt_ladher“I’m going to start a ‘Hello. My name is…’ campaign. Sent Chris home to design the logo… #hellomynameis”

Kate Granger sent that tweet on the 31 August 2013 during a hospital admission when she found that only a minority of the doctors and nurses she encountered during her stay would properly introduce themselves. It started a movement to encourage healthcare workers to introduce themselves to patients, which she wrote about in the BMJ, and now, less than three months after that first tweet, the #hellomynameis campaign has been highlighted in the UK government’s official response to the Francis report as an illustration of compassionate care. more…

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