Anorak News | Daily Mail says nutritionists it promotes put health at risk – massive fail

Daily Mail says nutritionists it promotes put health at risk – massive fail

by | 23rd, February 2012

HEALTH Tuesday – the Daily Mail’s weekly look at new ways to die features an article on nutritionists by Louise Atkinson:

EXPOSED: The nutrition therapists who puts your health at risk.

Louise Atkinson has news:

The therapist peered at my tongue. ‘Should I be worried about bowel cancer?’ I asked her. I’d told her about my changed bowel habits over the past six months, weight loss, fatigue and dark stools.

Louis is talking shit – literally.

Last month an alarming report by the consumer organisation Which? highlighted the risks posed by rogue nutritionists. All are classic symptoms of bowel cancer that, to a GP, would flag up the need for further investigation. I’d even mentioned that my father had died of the disease.

But the therapist seemed unconcerned: ‘Oh, you don’t need to worry about having cancer,’ she said. ‘I can tell you’re quite well. You’d be much better off thinking about changes you can make to your diet to help you prevent cancer.’ She recommended I cut out sugar (‘because cancers feed on sugar’) to reduce my risk.

Quackery! You might have read something similar in “The anti-cancer diet – Eat your way to a healthier life”. It was in the Daily MailBack in 2008, the Daily Mail told readers:

The dangers of sugar

Cancer feeds on sugar. The German biologist Otto Heinrich Warburg won a Nobel Prize for his discovery that the metabolism of malignant tumours is largely dependent on glucose consumption. Insulin production triggers inflammation. Those who eat low-sugar Asian diets tend to have five to ten times fewer hormonally driven cancers than those with diets high in sugar and refined foods. People who want to protect themselves from cancer should reduce their consumption of processed sugar and bleached flour. That means getting used to drinking coffee without sugar, avoiding sugary snacks between meals and cutting down on puddings.

Quack! Back to Louise:

We were in the dining room of her home in a leafy Home Counties village. A sign outside said she was ‘a specialist in food intolerance’. Certificates boasting her many qualifications, including a ‘diploma in holistic nutritional practice’ and her affiliation with ‘the Federation of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners’, covered her sideboard.

I’d found her after an internet search of local nutritional therapists. But she seemed little interested in hearing about my digestive complaints: instead, she gave me an ‘electrical food intolerance test’.

Quack! Only the Mail has told us that it might help:

So, last September, she booked to see Melanie Roberts at the Orchard Clinic in Chard, Somerset, who uses a testing system called ‘bio-electronic regulatory medicine’ (BER medicine), which originated from the principles of acupuncture… “When I followed Melanie’s advice to cut out coffee and all yeast-containing foods, including bread, mushrooms, cheese (except soft cream cheeses), Marmite, Bovril, stock cubes, monosodium glutamate flavouring and all alcohol except for gin, vodka, and champagne, the change was amazing. All the problems stopped and I felt brilliant within two weeks.”…

Strange as BER medicine sounds – with little scientific evidence to back it up and some vitriolic critics in conventional medicine – such devices are widely used in Germany. Melanie says that several GPs have recommended patients to her. I’ve consulted a practitioner who uses a similar device and been impressed, as have several friends. However, no diagnostic tool – conventional or alternative – is 100 per cent accurate.

Also, in a piece called “The Migraine Beaters“, we were told:

In the first study of its kind, 61 people with moderate to severe migraines were given a food intolerance test in a study by members of Migraine In Primary Care Advisers (MIPCA) and York-Test Laboratories Ltd.
Only one patient had no intolerances at all and the average participant had 5.3. Of those who eliminated their named foods from their diets, 80 per cent reported improvement in their migraines and more than a third reported significant relief. The most common intolerances were cow’s milk, yeast, egg white, egg yolk, wheat, gluten, corn, cashew nuts, seafood, Brazil nuts, cranberry and garlic.

Louise ploughs on:

The next day I went to see another therapist whose advert in the local paper said she was trained to offer nutritional advice. As I lay on the treatment couch in a tiny bedroom of her house, I saw that as with the previous therapist, her wall was covered in framed certificates including a ‘Kinesiology Federation Approved Certificate in Nutrition’. I repeated my list of bowel cancer symptoms but she, too, seemed unconcerned.

Kinesiology? The Mail has told us:

There are no claims that kinesiology can cure specific illnesses but apparently it can help boost energy, relieve tension and alleviate depression. Kinesiologists do claim to be able to test people for food allergies, though this has never been substantiated.

The Mail also told us:

Kinesiology addresses both physical and psychological issues and my short session feels like a cross between acupuncture and a visit to a psychologist.

The therapist concentrates on my inability to relax my mind and I leave the building feeling as though there has been a definite shift in my subconscious, something that no amount of massages could have brought about.
Prices at the treatment centre, which is situated on the outskirts of Clapham Junction in South London, vary from £20 for a facial to £60 for a Hypnotherapy session. But most importantly the staff are attentive and helpful, from the moment you walk through the door you feel as though you are being transported to a calm and serene place – even if it’s just for an hour or two!

Louise… What say you?

‘Muscle testing’, she announced, would identify the cause of my problems. Muscle testing seemed a uniquely brilliant diagnostic tool, requiring the therapist simply to push against my forearm to measure ‘resistance’ as she read out a list of possible physical and emotional problems. She spent another ten minutes with her hands resting on my abdomen to channel ‘powerful universal energy’, then released my body of the many ‘fears’ she said were blocking my energy channels by standing beside me with her hand on my forehead while I silently repeated phrases such as ‘fear of pain’. A loud yawn (hers, not mine) indicated each time the channel had been successfully cleared. At the end of the 90-minute session, my body had instructed her it would take two sessions (at £50 a session) a month apart to restore me to health. But in fact, I wasn’t ill at all: I’d booked these appointments as part of an investigation into the world of nutritional therapists. The picture that emerged was deeply worrying.

What to believe in the Daily Mail? Louise has a question:

But how good are nutritional therapists? And how safe?

Dunno? Tell us, Louise?

In one shocking case, from Wantage, Oxon, was left permanently brain damaged after following a diet recommended by a nutritional therapist. She’d been advised to drink six pints of water a day as a ‘detox’ to lose weight, and ended up with hyponatraemia (the medical name for a water overdose).

The BBC reported:

A woman has been awarded more than £800,000 after she suffered permanent brain damage while on a detox diet. The High Court heard Dawn Page, 52, began vomiting uncontrollably after starting The Amazing Hydration Diet.Mrs Page, from Oxfordshire, later had an epileptic seizure which damaged her memory, speech and concentration. Her nutritionist Barbara Nash has denied any wrongdoing and the High Court ratified the settlement without mention of liability.


Last month an alarming report by the consumer organisation Which? highlighted the risks posed by rogue nutritionists….A researcher who had breast cancer was told to delay the surgery and treatment recommended by her oncologist in favour of a sugar-free diet.

But the Mail told us:

Scientists are discovering that fructose appears to be linked to serious modern epidemics such as cancers, heart disease, hypertension, kidney damage and even dementia.

Louise has more:

When I asked Dr Rachel Pryke, who speaks on nutrition and health for the Royal College of GPs, to look at the advice I’d been given by just two nutritional therapists, she was shocked. Not only were the diagnostic ‘tools’ they used highly dubious, but their diagnoses were entirely invalid, she said.

‘The big danger is that people see the word “nutritionist” and assume that the practitioner is qualified,’ says Dr Pryke. Catherine Collins likens it to ‘playing Russian roulette with your health’.

As the Mail told its readers previously:

This cynical five-a-day myth: Nutrition expert claims we’ve all been duped

The nutritionist in the know was Zoë, “a qualified nutritionist with a Diploma in Diet & Nutrition and a Diploma in Clinical Weight Management“.

Wow! Get a load of that certificate!

Say Louise:

My fictitious symptoms clearly alarmed the London-based BANT-affiliated practitioner I contacted. When I called to make an appointment, she refused to see me until I’d seen my GP first. ‘It’s free — and that’s what they’re there for,’ she said. So what if you do want to talk to an expert about nutrition? Dr Pryke recommends anyone with health concerns talk to their GP or check out the NHS Choices website first.

Or as the Mail told us previously:

The problem with going the dietitian route is that to see one for free you need to be referred by a GP – which means you won’t get an appointment unless your problem is one that’s recognised by the medical profession as being treatable by diet. Good examples include diabetes, obesity, or food allergies. You can however see a dietitian privately – call 0121 200 8080 for a list of freelance dieticians – and for many health conditions with a clear diagnosis this would be my best recommendation.

Now, Louise, about that crap…

Posted: 23rd, February 2012 | In: Key Posts Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink