Diary

MORE random items of questionable relevance from the PM team…

CEREAL KILLER It might be churlish to take The Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers to task when they say: “Breakfast cereals are an important source of fibre, vitamins and minerals”. More interesting perhaps is what they don’t say. A recent study published in the British Dental Journal found that some top-selling UK breakfast cereals are 35 per cent sugar by weight. The packaging does recommend maximum portion sizes of 30g which is fine until – as the researchers observe – you look at the front of some cereal boxes with photographs of bowls “brimming to the top”. Eating the estimated 90g of cereal in these images would lead to children aged 4 to 10 exceeding their daily limit of “free sugars” by 12.5 per cent with just a single bowl.

SORRY (NOT SORRY) Practice managers are no strangers to email ping-pong and the delights of finding increasingly imaginative ways to politely chase someone for the umpteenth time. But it turns out all those pleasant sounding stock phrases fool no one. A survey by software company Adobe of 1,000 US workers found that the mosthated lines were those that tacitly imply a lack of response to a previous email. Giving off more than a whiff of passiveaggression is the classic opener: “Not sure if you saw my last email” (most hated by a quarter of survey respondents), followed by the abrupt “per my last email” and “per our conversation” (hated by 13 per cent and 11 per cent respectively). While maybe sounding innocent enough, “Any updates on this?” and “Sorry for the double email” also caused irritation. And let’s not forget the quiet persistence of those who are “re-attaching for your convenience” in the hope of receiving a reply sometime this millennium. Adobe’s director of email solutions Kristen Naragon says that, despite its speed and efficiency, expressing oneself clearly and politely via email can be tricky. “Emotion and intent are sometimes hard to convey via email, so [some phrases] can negatively impact productivity and culture.” Happy to discuss.

IT’S SO BRACING Time was, that lifestyle advice from your local practice amounted to “lose a few pounds and give up the fags”. Not so in Shetland today where 10 GP surgeries have recently been authorised by their health board to issue “nature prescriptions” for patients with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stress or depression. The local Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has drawn up a list of walks highlighting particular bird and plant species with leaflets available at surgeries. Dr Chloe Evans, a GP who piloted the programme at Scalloway health centre on the west coast of Shetland’s main island, told the Guardian: “People are always thinking at some level about their diet or exercise or stopping smoking but finding out what works for them is the key. The beauty about Shetland is it has this fantastic wild landscape.” Diary advice: hold on to your hat.

ROCKY ROAD Whoever said progress runs smoothly? Looking only to advance human wellbeing, lifestyle brand Goop (founded by Gwyneth Paltrow) has faced its share of setbacks. Coming hot on the tail of recent criticism over its DIY coffee enema kit, sceptics are now questioning the efficacy of its vaginal eggs. The jade (£51) or rose quartz (£42) stone eggs are claimed to boost sexual energy while balancing hormones, regulating periods and improving bladder control. The company has agreed to pay a $145,000 settlement over alleged unscientific claims about the eggs and a herbal essence said to help tackle depression and has also agreed to refund customers. In July, Paltrow announced that Goop had hired an in-house fact checker for its website. Not an enviable task.

GENDER CONTROL And so to Japan where women account for over 40 per cent of the workforce but this year’s 18 per cent pass rate for women taking the entrance exam to Tokyo Medical University proved something of a mystery. Was there a subtle cultural/gender bias at play? Not at all – a local newspaper found that administrators were simply marking down exam results by up to 10 per cent to keep the female student population down. This was deemed necessary (media reports have alleged) to prevent women undertaking medical training only to later quit in order to raise children. Head of the Japan Medical Women’s Association, Yoshiko Maeda, was astonished. “Instead of worrying about women quitting jobs, they should do more to create an environment where women can keep working.”

FAMOUS FINGERS Prostate Cancer Canada has come up with a novel campaign to encourage men to undergo digital exams and other checks to test for the disease. “Famous Fingers” features 13 model hands wearing latex gloves — index fingers raised — inspired by historical and fictional figures including Sherlock Holmes, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and King Tut. “It’s about normalizing the conversation around prostate exams and stressing the importance of detecting prostate cancer early,” said Peter Coleridge, President and CEO of Prostate Cancer Canada. “Any alternative to being examined by your doctor is quite absurd, which the campaign captures perfectly. Would you prefer to have your prostate checked by your doctor, or by Big Foot? We’ll let you decide.” Er… doctor please. www.famousfingers.ca