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Healthy food supersizes brain; charities trash health bill; foreign GPs’ language skills under attack

By Ian Quinn

Our roundup of health news headlines on Tuesday 8 February.

News that children fed a healthy diet are likely to grow up with a higher IQ makes for considerable coverage in today’s papers.

It comes after researchers from the University of Bristol found toddlers fed a diet packed high in fats, sugars, and processed foods had lower IQs than those fed pasta, salads and fruit.

They found after taking account of potentially influential factors, a predominantly processed food diet at the age of three was associated with a lower IQ at the age of eight and a half, irrespective of whether the diet improved after that age.

However, a healthy diet was associated with a higher IQ.

Generations of future parents will no doubt look forward to the task of convincing their screaming toddlers to down bucket loads of salad with relish, or not as the case may be.

Hardly a day goes by it seems without someone writing an open letter to The Times attacking the Government’s health plans and today it is the turn of a string of leading health charities.

They describe plans to make a network of GP commissioning consortia – responsible for £80bn of NHS cash – accountable to the public as ‘weak’.

The charities, which include the Alzheimer’s Society, The British Heart Foundation and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, say: ‘We support the Government’s aim to put patient involvement and democratic accountability at the heart of the health system. However there is a gap between rhetoric and reality.

‘The reforms will place £80 billion of the NHS budget into the hands of GPs, but plans to make GP consortia accountable to the public are far too weak.

‘The plans will allow local authorities to replace existing democratically elected overview and scrutiny committees with their own systems.’

The letter continues: ‘Greater patient and public involvement leads to better care and more efficient services yet the proposed reforms do little to give patients a stronger voice at a local level.’

The issue of GPs’ language skills, meanwhile, is worrying MPs, with today’s papers focusing on the health committee’s call for the GMC to ensure that GPs can speak good English, in the wake of the Daniel Ubani case.

And finally The Metro reports abortion charity Marie Stopes International has been accused of hitting a bum note, after it produced a risqué video targeting children that ‘seems to suggest anal sex as a method of birth control.’

The charity teamed up with comedy music band The Midnight Beast – brandishing blow-up dolls and condoms – for an online safe sex campaign, which includes the line: ‘One up the bum and it’s no harm done, one up the bum and you won’t be a mum.’

Spotted a story we’ve missed? Let us know, and we’ll update the digest throughout the day…

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