Media Savvy

The news, and the skews, in the national media

Public health crises come in two forms – those resulting from naturally occurring diseases and those that are the by-product of medical care itself. The opioid crisis is the latest self-inflicted wound in public health. In the US alone, there were 240m opioid prescriptions dispensed in 2015, nearly one for every adult in the general population. In order to tackle the opioid epidemic, we must first tackle a major contributor – physician overprescribing. BMJ editorial, 19 October

I was surprised to read last week that the Czechs are not only the unhealthiest people in the EU but are the unhealthiest people in the world… It turned out that the report’s authors simply assumed that countries with high rates of alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity were sick while those with low rates of alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity were healthy… This is clearly bonkers, but it is what happens when you mistake inputs for outcomes. The ‘public health’ lobby has become obsessed with three modifi­able lifestyle factors – alcohol, obesity and tobacco. Unable to see beyond this trio of risk factors for diseases of affluence and old age, there are some who have convinced themselves that they are all that matters.
Christopher Snowdon, Spectator, 2 October

Health messaging relies on a kind of biblical simplicity. There’s no room for nuance if it’s to hit the solar plexus. And so the call goes out: there’s no such thing as safe drinking. You’re hurting yourself – and, worse, your children! This is treacherous territory.
Anne Perkins, Guardian, 18 October

I wonder about parents who are up in arms at the latest findings that even moderate drinking can leave children feeling anxious, and that a tipsy parent is never a good role model… The reason this news has come as a shock is that parents these days don’t even see their drinking as a problem. It’s their right. They came of age in an era when we are supposed to have it all. No one will countenance hardship of any kind: not a moment of hunger or thirst.
Liz Jones, Mail on Sunday, 22 October

Officialdom is still baffled by the Las Vegas mass murders. That’s because they’re only interested in standard explanations. Almost all such killings are committed by people who have been using legal or illegal mind-altering drugs – eg ‘antidepressants’, steroids or cannabis. And we know that the killer Stephen Paddock had been taking diazepam (whose side effects include rage and violence, especially if the person is an abuser of other drugs). It really is time this connection was examined.
Peter Hitchins, Mail on Sunday, 15 October