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My reader; Evidence-based diagnosis and acupuncture; obese men

Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My reader
When he did his morning slot on Radio 2, Terry Wogan used to crack on about the “other listener” as if he had an audience of only one or two.  That’s how I feel about this blog – am I the only one reading it?  But no, I’ve just heard from my reader in Yorkshire.  Thank you Barbara.

Evidence-based diagnosis and acupuncture
On 23rd December I referred to a letter published in the Veterinary Record about acupuncture.  The following week’s Vet Record had two replies to the original letter, both critical of acupuncture.

The first, from a veterinary neurologist, pointed out the danger of relieving pain without first having an accurate diagnosis. It also stated that treatments should be based on [scientific] evidence rather than limited experience. 

In my lifetime’s experience of veterinary practice I think I was certain of my diagnosis about three times.  The Dean of the Veterinary faculty when I was a student, the late Sir William Weipers, told us students “Diagnosis is the art of reaching a conclusion on the basis of insufficient evidence.”

The second letter claimed that all the evidence pointed to acupuncture offering little benefit except for its placebo effect.  I’ve seen many instances which suggest that there is more to it than that.  People who expect benefit but don’t; others who see changes which they did not expect; animals respond when you would not expect any placebo effect (I’m not convinced about that one).  None of that is “evidence” in the scientific sense, it’s only anecdotal (a story).

Obese men
A study by Oxford University and the British Heart Foundation has found that the average British man was a stone - 7.7 kg - heavier in 2000 than in 1986.  (Ed. Why has it taken 10 years to report?)  Increased food consumption accounted for only 4.7 kg of this and it is assumed that reduced physical activity was the reason for the remainder.
Just like pets really.

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