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Families to set good examples to fat children, butter ‘is good for you’ and the ‘mafia code’ that silences medical whistleblowers

‘Butter is good for you,’ according to a headline on today’s Times front page. The paper quotes a BMJ article by leading UK cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra which claims the Government is ‘obsessed’ with overall cholesterol levels. Acccording to Dr Malhotra, millions are being ‘overmedicated’ with statins, despite recent studies ‘not showing a strong link’ between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. Instead, fizzy drinks and white bread are the real drivers of the obesity epidemic, he argues.

‘If you have a choice between butter and margarine, have the butter every time,’ Dr Malhotra urges.

Continuing on the theme of healthy eating, the Independent and several other papers report on new NICE guidance to doctors and councils aimed at ensuring the parents and family members of obese children eat healthily and exercise to set a good example.

GPs must ‘use tact and diplomacy’ to help parents drop their ‘denial’ that their kids are overweight, writes The Times.

NICE public health chief Professor Mike Kelly said: ‘These programmes will… support parents to identify changes that can be done at home to tackle obesity. Many of them are things that we should all be doing anyway, including healthy eating, getting the whole family to be more active and reducing the amount of time spent watching TV and playing computer games.’

GPs should prescribe ‘ecotherapy’ to depressed patients, the Independent reports. According to a major trial by the charity Mind, gardening, growing food and wildlife conservation led to seven out of ten people reporting significantly increased wellbeing. It now says the Government could save £35,000 a year in medication costs by introducing just five people to ecotherapy. In a survey of GPs, more than half agreed ecotherapy was a suitable treatment for anxiety and depression but most said more research was needed before they start to prescribe it widely.

And finally, a ‘mafia code’ among doctors means whistleblowers on poor care are ‘finished’, reports the Telegraph. David Tredinnick MP said there is ‘a mafia code, an omerta’ in the medical profession, as CQC chair David Prior claimed ‘not a single senior medic’ spoke out during the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal.

Mr Prior told the Commons Health Committee: ‘We are tribal people. Clinicians have their tribes. Hospitals have their tribes. The CQC has its tribe. We tend to be defensive about our tribe, but we have to break those rules down.’