Have we taken the ‘Public’ out of ‘Public Health’?2019-03-12T13:04:40+00:00

Have we taken the ‘Public’ out of ‘Public Health’?

When Professor Grant Schofield gives his presentation at the ACNEM Conference coming up in May, he’ll be asking have we taken the ‘public’ out of ‘public health’ and how did we get to this situation where the medical profession in Australia and New Zealand have become outdated and un-involved in public health?

Professor Schofield’s presentation is titled: Is there a place for low-carb and fasting in public health nutrition? When we talked with New Zealand-based Professor Schofield this week, he admitted he feels we seem to have taken the ‘public’ out of ‘public health.’

“The Internet has given us all access to so much more information and this has allowed scientists and others to have a dissonant voice but the medical profession still think they’re living in the same world that used to exist prior to the Internet,” he commented.

“We’ve missed the boat,” he added. “It’s like there’s this parallel universe which is the Internet and there’s all of this information available – and then we have the other arm of ‘public health’ which is almost outdated.”

Failure to adopt and support new ideas

As well, Professor Schofield said the medical profession has failed to adopt and support new ideas which have arisen from the latest research: “When you look at it, we seem to have gone backwards,” he said. “Every week there’ll be something in the media saying something one way and then the next week, there’ll be something supporting the other way. I think this situation, where we can’t seem to adopt and support new ideas, is something we need to look at.”

“For example, we know the low-carb diet is very effective for diabetes and yet we’ll see a message come out from the government which says a ‘low-carb’ diet can be ‘dangerous’ for your health. We’ve done the science so why can’t we just turn this into policy? If we don’t, it seems we’re actively opposing efficacious treatments.

“The majority of doctors are GPs practising out there and they’re not across all of the latest research but they would implement it if it was policy,” he added.

Our message is not getting to the right people

Professor Schofield said the current public health system isn’t reaching the level of people in the system that it needs to. He commented that in Australia, there’s still many chronic health conditions which could be rectified: “We’ve still got a massive problem of obesity and diabetes and poor health. In Australia, with a population of 22 and a half million, just under a quarter of those people are lost to poor health.”

“Out of that 22 and a half million, 4% were born unhealthy, 8% sustained injuries but the others have bad health because of smoking, drinking, lack of fitness and poor nutrition,” he continued.

Professor Schofield said that while modern medicine has become the first bastion for new research, the awareness of all this research is not getting to the public and the people in the health system: “The world has changed so much. With so much information available now on the Internet, everyone has access to medical information. Even 30 years ago, this wasn’t the case – you had to be part of the medical profession to get access to all of the latest information. When I did my study in 1995 you had to go to the library to get the information I needed,” he added.

“But the medical profession still think they’re living in the same world,” he said, explaining this means they haven’t adopted the latest research and so they’re not able to give their patients the benefit of this research and improve the treatment they’re getting.

Celebrity authors and lone rangers are left to inform everyone

Professor Schofield said the current state of the public health system ultimately means a much more integrative approach to health is lost. But he added this doesn’t mean the latest information about health is not being promoted but it’s now left to others to bring this information forward such as celebrity authors like Dr Mosley.

Dr Mosley wrote the best-selling book called The 5.2 Fast Diet six years ago and it’s been a best-seller ever since. His current book, the fast 800 has been the No. 1 Bestseller in the Australian, New Zealand and UK market for some time. Both of these books guide people in how to use fasting and a low-carb diet to lose weight and achieve long-term good health.

The question Professor Schofield would like answered is: “Why are these major changes in public health often instigated by celebrity authors and not by the medical profession themselves? It’s left to the ‘lone rangers’ of the world to get the message out there but the medical profession should be part of this more and that way they’d be an active part of our public health system.”

You can see Professor Grant Schofield giving his presentation titled: Is there a place for low carb and fasting in public health nutrition? at the ACNEM Conference called Evolving Landscapes of Nutrition in Medicine in Melbourne from May 24 – 26th.

Professor Grant Schofield is a Professor of Public Health and the Director of the Human Potential Centre at AUT at Auckland University of Technology. Professor Schofield researched and teaches in the areas of wellbeing and chronic disease prevention, especially reducing the risk and eventual mortality and morbidity from obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Professor Schofield has co-authored several best-selling books in the What the Fat? Series. He’s also part of a new startup called Prekure (Prevention is cure) which aims to help health professional upskill in the latest knowledge and application of lifestyle medicine.

Professor Schofield actively lives his areas of expertise and has competed in elite sport including professional triathlons and over 20 Ironman events including the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships in 1995 and 1997.