The BMJ Today: Food fights and contract concerns

myplate1• The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific?
For years, Western dietary guidelines have recommended that we follow a low fat diet: eat less meat, less dairy, and more grain, we have been told. But as more research has suggested that saturated fat might not be the great bogeyman it has been depicted as being, why have the dietary guidelines stayed the same? In a major investigation for The BMJ, US journalist Nina Teicholz turns the spotlight on the expert report underpinning the next set of US Dietary Guidelines for Americans and asks what is going on. It is also a question of enormous relevance to those of us outside the US, as the American guidelines influence dietary advice elsewhere.

Teicholz reports that science is being sidelined, because of a reluctance to depart from existing dietary recommendations. “Many experts, institutions, and industries have an interest in keeping the status quo advice,” she writes, “and these interests create a bias in its favour.”

medical_student• Problems with the new junior doctor contract
Junior doctors are angry, write Jessamy Bagenal, Tom Moberly, and Fiona Godlee in an editorial. Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the UK media the past few weeks—or on Twitter, where junior doctors have been posting pictures of themselves holding placards—will understand why. Plans for a new contract could see them working longer hours for less pay.

The authors agree that “the proposed changes seem to be harsh and lacking in clarity and planning,” adding, “It’s important that junior doctors dispute aspects that will affect patient safety and workforce retention.” But they also say that junior doctors need to “turn their frustration and anger with the current proposals into meaningful engagement so that their contract develops in a way that is beneficial to patient care, the health service, and doctors themselves.”

Trevor Jackson, deputy editor and head of news and views, The BMJ. Email