Monday, 30 November 2009

Express, health, etc

It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep coming up with new ways of saying the same thing about another stupid 'miracle cure' headline in the stupid Express.

It's doubtful that anyone who sees this front page headline would believe it. The second line of the article by Jo Willey (yes, her again) states:

Scientists have revealed the maitake mushroom can shrink tumours by as much as 75 per cent.

So 'shrinks' tumours, rather than 'beats' them. Not quite the same thing.

So mushrooms don't beat cancer, Tiger Woods and Susan Boyle - what a front page of truly essential stories that is...

And, as usual with the Express' health stories, it's not even new - back in March the paper was reporting on mushrooms slashing the risk of breast cancer (as was the Mail).

So the Express' advice - eat mushrooms. Just not the ones that kill you.

Back to Saturday's Express front page about how great cereal is, which came courtesy of lots of people with a vested interest in saying how great cereal is.

Was it a coincidence that that appeared only three days after the Express' Hidden salt kills 40,000 a year front page which warned that the three foods with the most 'hidden salt' are bread, processed meats and, errr, cereals.

Is that why the cereal people then dusted off five-month old research and flogged it to the Express to show cereal was good for you after all?

Following my post, reader Chris Lawrence wrote in, having done research on some of the experts mentioned in the story.

He found the 'independent' dietician Lynne Garton has been quoted in 15 Express articles this year. These included two previous ones about how great cereal is: Bowl of cereal 'good as sports drink' for energy (14 May 2009) and Lose pounds by eating cereal twice every day (17 Feb 2009).

Yes, twice every day.

As if to heighten the sense of deja vu, the Express even used the same stock photo on Sautrday's story as they did on the sports drink one:

Chris then looked at other members of the Tea Advisory Panel, which Garton sits on. As does Carrie Ruxton, who has been caught repeatedly extolling the benefits of tea. Catherine Hood is also on the Panel, and she's been quoted in three Express articles saying tea keeps you chipper when you have three cups a day, is a real tonic and is good for your heart.

Dr Ann Walker is another member of the TAP and Ben Goldacre has an excellent piece about her. She appears in 26 articles on the Mail's website. Dr Chris Steele, famous for his appearances on This Morning, turns up repeatedly in both the Express and the Mail.

Prof Jeya Henry has four mentions in the latter and none in the former, which could be because he isn't interested in being a rent-a-quote, or maybe the papers are put off by his 'funny' name...

But what is the fascination? Is it the old TaxPayers' Alliance syndrome where they just happen to be the first (and only) lot the lazy journalists always call for a reaction? Or, as Chris asks:

is there a more sinister, presumably commercial driven, reason why the Express (and seemingly Mail) are devoting column inches to these people and organisations?


  1. I preferred her on the Evening Session with Steve Lamacq.

  2. I reached this page while searching for connections of Catherine Hood, Carrie Ruxton to the tea and other industry. I just saw a news article where Dr Cathy was singing health benefits of drinking tea 3 times a day. I got suspicious. Upon search I found that last year she was quoted in another health article pushing people to drink 8 cups of tea a day. And not to my surprise, the main research in that article came from Dr Carrie Ruxton, another Tea Advisory Panelist. Further search on both these 'experts' together revealed they even appeared in some youtube videos promoting some supplements etc. Regarding Carrie - apparently earlier when she was on some Sugar Board, she published few 'research' articles saying that sweetened beverages and sugar got bad rep and that sugar are actually good for people (give more energy). In a caffiene article, she even said the parents should not stop kids from drinking tea.

    [8 cups]
    [caffeine for heart]
    [profile on TAP]
    [both selling on youtube]


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