Mixed messages, confusion and chips

Fatties are more likely to get dementia. Almost everyday we hear that health outcomes are dependent on any number of actions we as individuals take. Be that eating too much, drinking too much or eating and drinking the wrong thing. Today, it’s over eating that is more likely to fry our brains. Tomorrow it may be that eating fried food improves our memory! In many cases we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The causation or risk of disease due to activities we undertake is often reported as the result of new research, with no supporting comment to guide us as to how we should respond to it. These stories are often reported in isolation and appear unconnected with other research and on occasion offer us contradictory evidence, thereby allowing us to ignore it, or more likely, leaving us bewildered.

Without context and putting each story within a wider picture, advice can be confusing to many and the actions we need to take overwhelming. So with a mass of advice on what to do and not to do for us to stay healthy the general public may feel that anything they do is harmful and be tempted to throw in the towel.  Those who may benefit most may not even bother reading the story.

Perhaps the new Public Health England (PHE) can play a part and develop a new role by monitoring and reviewing the research and resulting news stories and using them to replay its central messages and support the themes it wants to get across. Without the wrap around of context and support and advice from the centre much of the research and the contribution it could make may fall on ears deafened by the noise of mixed messages. Like Channel 4 News, PHE could develop a ‘Fact Check’ public resource.  With the proposed deeper integration with the Local Authority, public health now has a chance to play a more prominent role in our lives.  It could start by helping us sift through the welter of advice and research, giving  us a few simple messages that are consistent, loud and clear.


About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
This entry was posted in Public Health and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s