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The BMJ Today: Why diets don’t work and the rehabilitation of saturated fat

17 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

Depending on your world view, our obsession with food at Christmas (witness packed supermarket aisles, and the acres of menu ideas churned out by newspapers) is either a glorious, well deserved indulgence or evidence of an obscene festival of gluttony.

Come January many of us will have embarked on body sculpting diets. Before you do, read Richard Smith’s “Are some diets ‘mass murder,” for which the former BMJ editor ploughed through five books on diet and some of the key studies. His conclusion? That from low fat to carb-free, many diets are based on fragile science, and the long term results may be terrible. more…

The BMJ Today: “Your husband can donate his tools” and other Christmas highlights

16 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

rich_hurleyWhat do you do if you have to treat a very sick child in intensive care whose parents do not speak English—and there are no human translators available? What do you do when presented with any seemingly insoluble situation in this day and age? Naturally, your first port of call is Google.

But can you be sure when using Google Translate that you’re not inadvertently giving parents the wrong message. For example, what if you said, “Your child’s state is not life stopping” rather than the opposite “Your child’s condition is life threatening,” which is actually what you meant. more…

The BMJ Today: Idiotic men and socialism

15 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

debsNo, that isn’t the latest political outpouring from Russell Brand—it’s the theme of two recently published papers in The BMJ.

Authors in Australia wanted to find out if the meme “armchair socialist” held any weight. You know the type—those people who tweet with fervour from their sofas during Question Time, but seem to be fully reclined when the revolution comes. They attempted to test the validity of the concept of left wing “armchair socialists,” and whether they sit more and move less than their right wing and centrist counterparts. more…

The BMJ Today: Christmas has hit the fan

12 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

We’re getting festive in BMJ Towers, mince pies, tinsel, and dubious jumper choices abound. So settle back and let the Christmas issue relax you like a postprandial sherry.

What makes a good playlist? This is a much more complicated question than I had first suspected, and some strong opinions were expressed by colleagues. (Most militantly by Navjoyt Ladher, our clinical reviews editor, who is a strict adherent of High Fidelity protagonist Rob Gordon’s method: “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.”) more…

The BMJ Today: Is the private sector closing in on the NHS?

11 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

kellyYesterday, an investigation from The BMJ was making headlines everywhere from the BBC and the Financial Times, to Rochdale Online. This investigation, the latest by The BMJ‘s news reporter Gareth Iacobucci, found that since the Health and Social Care Act came into force in April 2013, a third of NHS contracts have gone to private sector providers. more…

The BMJ Today: Could you have been trained in 48 hours?

10 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

The latest in our series of Head to Head articles was posted yesterday, and has already garnered a response—let us know if you agree with the arguments.

Andrew Hartle and Sarah Gibb, both from the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, think that 48 hours a week is enough time to train doctors. The crux of their argument is that it happens in Norway, so why not here. more…

The BMJ Today: Editor’s delights

9 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

BirteSelf prescribing among doctors is legal and commonplace, but its potential problems have been recognised for many years, and regulators are increasingly taking a dim view, writes BMJ Careers editor Tom Moberly in a feature. He reviews the concerns of self prescribing as reflected in guidance from medical authorities around the world, advising doctors against such practice.

Official data are scarce, but the feature concludes with a poignant quote from one of the interviewees: “Often times . . . [doctors] don’t always recognise the consequences until something bad happens . . . and that’s a bad time to learn.” more…

The BMJ Today: Male circumcision and medical suicides

8 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

thebmj-MSF-Xmas-Banner-300x250The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that doctors start telling uncircumcised sexually active teenage boys they can reduce their risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted disease if they have the surgery. The draft proposal also applies to adult heterosexual men and for expectant parents as they decide about newborn circumcision.

The BMJ’s US correspondent Mike McCarthy reminds us that the CDC tempers its proposed guidance by noting that the decision to undergo circumcision is “made in the context of not only health considerations, but also other social, cultural, ethical, and religious factors.” more…

The BMJ Today: Global differences in pregnancies

5 Dec, 14 | by BMJ

wim_weberGlobal inequalities in health and healthcare never cease to amaze me. This week we published a large study from Sweden showing the negative effects of obesity in pregnancy, and we find a report telling us that for €20 ($25, £16) per year per woman we can reduce almost three quarters of unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions in developing countries. more…

The BMJ Today: Looking for general practitioner (GP) authors

4 Dec, 14 | by BMJ Group

tiago_villanuevaIn a recent BMJ Today, I explained that The BMJ maintains an educational section called Endgames aimed at junior doctors preparing for their postgraduate examinations.

What I didn’t say was that most case reports and picture quizzes published so far are aimed particularly at hospital doctors rather than primary care doctors (GP’s/family physicians). more…

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