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On obsession

It was Bertrand Russell who claimed that "the most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way". Oh Bertrand, you lived in a simpler age, and certainly one without the obsession with mindless controversy we have to put up with today. While there is a kernel of truth in his view, controversies rage today even in the presence of mountains of evidence. Two examples are obesity, and MMR.

A brief look at the telly in Britain in recent days has commentators telling us that society is obsessed with obesity, and decrying this. Yet the medical journals are replete with evidence about how obesity destroys our health, and how losing weight benefits it. Bandolier in recent issues has looked, for instance, at better outcomes with arthritis and erectile dysfunction associated with weight loss. This month it is diabetes and gout.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rocketing, and only a few type 2 diabetics have BMI under 25. Despite very considerable efforts by primary care in the UK, few type 2 diabetics successfully lose weight, or have good glycaemic control, at least up to 2001. It remains to be seen whether changes since then will turn the corner. And most gout in fatter people is due to being overweight. Bandolier on the Internet has a huge new section on healthy living evidence and evidence of the benefits of making changes.

MMR is still treated as the "controversial MMR vaccine" on UK TV. The weight of evidence that there is absolutely no link to autism is now overwhelming. Yet as long as that moniker of controversial is hung round its neck like a dead albatross, people will think there is. Internet Bandolier has a downloadable essay on MMR and autism, useful for professionals and parents.

Healthy living has benefits hugely greater than anything medicine can deliver. Bandolier will continue to obsessed, despite no support for doing so. Anyone out there care to help find the wherewithal for Bandolier to do more?

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