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Patients with learning difficulties given too many anti-psychotics, a pill that 'zaps the munchies', and the effectiveness of standing on one leg

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Wednesday 30 April

The BBC is reporting that hospital or care home residents with learning disabilities are being given large quantities of anti-psychotic drugs.

The Learning Disability Survey, compiled by the Health and Social Care Information Centre show almost two-thirds of residents are given the drugs on a regular basis, rather than when required.

Anti-psychotic drugs are meant to be used only when required, but the survey found that of those being prescribed the drugs, just 4.8% were being given them solely on an ‘as needed’ basis.

Elsewhere, the Daily Mail reports on the discovery of a molecule that ‘zaps the munchies’.

The chemical, acetate, is found in dietary fibre and could combat the dangerously bulging waistlines of many Britons.

Researchers are currently looking at the possibilities for developing a pill.

Professor Gary Frost, of Imperial College London, said: ‘The major challenge is to develop an approach that will deliver the amount of acetate needed to suppress  appetite but in a form that is acceptable and safe for humans.

‘Acetate is only active for a short amount of time in the body, so if we focused on a purely acetate-based product we would need to find a way to drip feed it and mimic its slow release in the gut.

Finally, the Telegraph reports on a new study that has found effective ways of predicting later health problems – including standing on one leg and repeatedly standing up from a chair.

The study, by the Medical Research Council, found that men aged 53 years old who could balance on one leg for more than ten seconds and stand up and sit down in a chair more than 37 times in a minute were found to be least at risk of dying early by the researchers.

Women of the same age who could stand up and sit down more than 35 times in a minute and stand on one leg for more than ten seconds were also at the lowest risk compared to those who performed less well.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Re: over use of anti-psychotics in LD care.
    In 2006, the LD domiciliary support services in Lancashire passed from direct NHS provision to NHS commissioned care from private companies.
    If your staff are not trained, not properly managed and supported, not effectively supervised in practice, their only recourse to deal with distressed and agitated patients is to sedate them.
    There are very few psychiatrists in the specialised field of LD with overlying MH problems, most work in secure units.
    GPs do not generally understand the needs of LD individuals in the community setting. When I was an LD nurse, I had a GP describe his interaction with the lady I was supporting as "like bloody veterinary medicine, they're like dumb animals".
    Nobody covers themselves in glory when it comes to LD, MH or geriatric support and care, we are still woefully deficient in the skills and compassion these vunerable groups and individuals require.

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