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  • Public health nutrition in the UK

    19 February 2019

    © 2018 A poor diet is the leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality in England. Nutritional surveillance shows that, on average, people eat too little fruit and vegetables, fibre and oily fish, and too many foods and drinks high in calories, sugar and saturated fat. Although micronutrient deficiencies are rare at the population level, some subgroups may require nutritional supplements. Public health policy seeks to intervene to close the gap between dietary intake and dietary recommendations for good health. Population-level policies include actions to enhance nutritional knowledge, set nutrition standards for food provision and introduce fiscal interventions such as taxation. They can also encourage the food industry to reformulate food and drink products, change the availability or positioning of products, thus changing the default choices, and change the way products are marketed, with a mix of both voluntary and mandatory approaches. Health professionals can play a pivotal role in motivating dietary change at an individual level, particularly for individuals with increased risk, and have an advocacy role in supporting policies to improve population health.

  • Response

    25 February 2019

  • Prevention and reversal of Type 2 diabetes: highlights from a symposium at the 2019 Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference

    15 February 2019

    © 2018 Diabetes UK Aim: This symposium covers the gamut of Type 2 diabetes prevention, reversing established Type 2 diabetes, population-level delivery of weight loss programmes and personal insights into achieving and retaining substantial weight loss. Results: The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme was launched in 2016 and rates of referral and attendance have both exceeded expectations. By March 2018, mean weight loss for completers (those attending more than 60% of sessions) was 3.2 kg reflecting considerable health benefits. Established Type 2 diabetes is now known to be a reversible condition in the early years, and the underlying mechanism is the removal of the excess fat from within liver and pancreas in these susceptible individuals. The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial has shown that around half of a primary care population of people with Type 2 diabetes of less than 6 years’ duration can be returned to non-diabetic blood glucose control which lasts at least 12 months. This raises the question of population-level intervention to achieve weight loss. The success of some mass weight loss programmes requires to be recognized. Reframing mass provision of weight loss support should be a vital part of our clinical strategy to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes. However, the current obesogenic environment is a reality in which individuals must live. A personal account of achieving substantial and maintaining substantial weight loss provides an invaluable insight into practical problems encountered. All health professionals dealing with weight control should assimilate and reflect upon this understanding. Conclusions: Effective prevention and long term reversal of Type 2 diabetes is feasible. The impact upon the individual must be considered during delivery of advice and support.

  • Competitions for smoking cessation.

    27 February 2019

    BACKGROUND: Competitions might encourage people to undertake and/or reinforce behaviour change, including smoking cessation. Competitions involve individuals or groups having the opportunity to win a prize following successful cessation, either through direct competition or by entry into a lottery or raffle. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether competitions lead to higher long-term smoking quit rates. We also aimed to examine the impact on the population, the costs, and the unintended consequences of smoking cessation competitions. SEARCH METHODS: This review has merged two previous Cochrane reviews. Here we include studies testing competitions from the reviews 'Competitions and incentives for smoking cessation' and 'Quit & Win interventions for smoking cessation'. We updated the evidence by searching the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register in June 2018. SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered randomized controlled trials (RCTs), allocating individuals, workplaces, groups within workplaces, or communities to experimental or control conditions. We also considered controlled studies with baseline and post-intervention measures in which participants were assigned to interventions by the investigators. Participants were smokers, of any age and gender, in any setting. Eligible interventions were contests, competitions, lotteries, and raffles, to reward cessation and continuous abstinence in smoking cessation programmes. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: For this update, data from new studies were extracted independently by two review authors. The primary outcome measure was abstinence from smoking at least six months from the start of the intervention. We performed meta-analyses to pool study effects where suitable data were available and where the effect of the competition component could be separated from that of other intervention components, and report other findings narratively. MAIN RESULTS: Twenty studies met our inclusion criteria. Five investigated performance-based reward, where groups of smokers competed against each other to win a prize (N = 915). The remaining 15 used performance-based eligibility, where cessation resulted in entry into a prize draw (N = 10,580). Five of these used Quit & Win contests (N = 4282), of which three were population-level interventions. Fourteen studies were RCTs, and the remainder quasi-randomized or controlled trials. Six had suitable abstinence data for a meta-analysis, which did not show evidence of effectiveness of performance-based eligibility interventions (risk ratio (RR) 1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.77 to 1.74, N = 3201, I2 = 57%). No trials that used performance-based rewards found a beneficial effect of the intervention on long-term quit rates.The three population-level Quit & Win studies found higher smoking cessation rates in the intervention group (4% to 16.9%) than the control group at long-term follow-up, but none were RCTs and all had important between-group differences in baseline characteristics. These studies suggested that fewer than one in 500 smokers would quit because of the contest.Reported unintended consequences in all sets of studies generally related to discrepancies between self-reported smoking status and biochemically-verified smoking status. More serious adverse events were not attributed to the competition intervention.Using the GRADE system we rated the overall quality of the evidence for smoking cessation as 'very low', because of the high and unclear risk of bias associated with the included studies, substantial clinical and methodological heterogeneity, and the limited population investigated. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: At present, it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions about the effectiveness, or a lack of it, of smoking cessation competitions. This is due to a lack of well-designed comparative studies. Smoking cessation competitions have not been shown to enhance long-term cessation rates. The limited evidence suggesting that population-based Quit & Win contests at local and regional level might deliver quit rates above baseline community rates has not been tested adequately using rigorous study designs. It is also unclear whether the value or frequency of possible cash reward schedules influence the success of competitions. Future studies should be designed to compensate for the substantial biases in the current evidence base.

  • Post-marketing withdrawal of 462 medicinal products because of adverse drug reactions: A systematic review of the world literature

    24 January 2019

    © 2016 Onakpoya et al. Background: There have been no studies of the patterns of post-marketing withdrawals of medicinal products to which adverse reactions have been attributed. We identified medicinal products that were withdrawn because of adverse drug reactions, examined the evidence to support such withdrawals, and explored the pattern of withdrawals across countries. Methods: We searched PubMed, Google Scholar, the WHO's database of drugs, the websites of drug regulatory authorities, and textbooks. We included medicinal products withdrawn between 1950 and 2014 and assessed the levels of evidence used in making withdrawal decisions using the criteria of the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine. Results: We identified 462 medicinal products that were withdrawn from the market between 1953 and 2013, the most common reason being hepatotoxicity. The supporting evidence in 72 % of cases consisted of anecdotal reports. Only 43 (9.34 %) drugs were withdrawn worldwide and 179 (39 %) were withdrawn in one country only. Withdrawal was significantly less likely in Africa than in other continents (Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australasia and Oceania). The median interval between the first reported adverse reaction and the year of first withdrawal was 6 years (IQR, 1-15) and the interval did not consistently shorten over time. Conclusion: There are discrepancies in the patterns of withdrawal of medicinal products from the market when adverse reactions are suspected, and withdrawals are inconsistent across countries. Greater co-ordination among drug regulatory authorities and increased transparency in reporting suspected adverse drug reactions would help improve current decision-making processes.

  • Characterisation of trials where marketing purposes have been influential in study design: A descriptive study

    24 January 2019

    © 2016 Barbour et al. Background: Analysis of trial documentation has revealed that some industry-funded trials may be done more for marketing purposes than scientific endeavour. We aimed to define characteristics of drug trials that appear to be influenced by marketing considerations and estimate their prevalence. Methods: We examined reports of randomised controlled trials of drugs published in six general medical journals in 2011. Six investigators independently reviewed all publications, characterising them as YES/MAYBE/NO suspected marketing trials, and then met to reach consensus. Blinded researchers then extracted key trial characteristics. We used blinded cluster analysis to determine if key variables could characterise the categories of trials (YES/MAYBE/NO). Results: 41/194 (21 %) trials were categorised as YES, 14 (7 %) as MAYBE, 139 (72 %) as NO. All YES and MAYBE trials were funded by the manufacturer, compared with 37 % of NO trials (p < 0.001). A higher proportion of YES trials had authors or contributors from the manufacturer involved in study design (83 % vs. 19 %), data analysis (85 % vs.15 %) and reporting (81 % vs. 15 %) than NO trials (p < 0.001). There was no significant difference between groups in the median number of participants screened (p = 0.49), but the median number of centres recruiting participants was higher for YES compared with NO trials (171 vs. 13, p < 0.001). YES trials were not more likely to use a surrogate (42 % vs. 30 %; p = 0.38) or composite primary outcome measure (34 % vs. 19 %; p = 0.14) than NO trials. YES trials were often better reported in terms of blinding, safety outcomes and adverse events than NO trials. YES trials more frequently included speculation that might encourage clinicians to use the intervention outside of the study population compared to NO trials (59 % vs.37 %, p = 0.03). Cluster analysis based on study characteristics did not identify a clear variable structure that accurately characterised YES/MAYBE/NO trials. Conclusions: We reached consensus that a fifth of drug trials published in the highest impact general medical journals in 2011 had features that were suggestive of being designed for marketing purposes. Each of the marketing trials appeared to have a unique combination of features reported in the journal publications.