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Independents' Day

Obesity warnings, whistleblowers' protection, and patients can Google health advice

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines

Losing weight is not as simple as eating less and exercising more for most obese people, leading obesity researchers and clinicians have said in a letter to the Lancet.

The Independent reports oversimplified advice ignores the reality of the condition, and point out many obese people can lose weight but regain 80-95% of it after a few months.

They write such advice, from commentators who suggest obese people ‘bring it on themselves’, is as much help to patients seeking weight loss as a ‘recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely’.

NHS whistleblowers will be protected under changes to employment law which would make punitive sanctions a matter of discrimination, the health secretary has said.

The Telegraph reports the changes are a response to Robert Francis QC’s report on whistleblowing, but campaigners warn the changes don’t go far enough to protect staff who speak out.

Jeremy Hunt accepted all 20 recommendations of the report and told the Commons: ‘The message must go out today that we are calling time on bullying, intimidation and victimisation, which has no place in our NHS.’

And finally, Google has introduced doctor-checked medical advice to appear alongside common health searches, the BBC reports.

Initially limited to the US, a spokesperson for the search enginge said it was a response to 1 in 20 searches relating to health but would not replace a visit to the physician.

GPC deputy chair, Dr Richard Vautrey cautiously welcomed the plans but said: ‘It must be underpinned by clinical guidance from UK based health professionals as there are stark differences between the UK and the USA health systems and culture.’

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