Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gluten Free

Tour your local supermarket and you will be peppered by an exhaustive range of products labeled gluten free.

Gluten is a protein found largely in flours such as wheat, barley and rye.  It gives bread much of its elasticity.

Individuals with coeliac disease (a form of inflammatory bowel disease) are worsened by even small amounts of dietary gluten and total abstinence from the substance is critical. 

While this association is important it doesn't explain the near hysteria regarding gluten among foodies.  After all, the number of individuals with coeliac disease and gluten hypersensitivity  is less than one percent of the population. This hardly indicates the need to send gluten to a nutritional gulag.

Yet this is just what is happening, with more and more foods and services designated gluten free.  Consumers look for this branding and those items designated as gluten free fly off the shelf.

While some of the products have gluten removed, most (say peaches) are gluten free to begin with.  Shoppers oftentimes embrace these items for the first time believing  they are especially safe and healthy choices.

There are numerous gluten free sightings during the course of a usual day.  

For example, many restaurants proclaim that a number of their dishes are gluten free.  Ice cream parlors are gluten free.  A dentist advertises gluten free teeth cleanings.  Perhaps we'll even have gluten free condoms one day.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

No Thank You

A local clinic recently announced on the radio that they had begun to offer same day, early morning, late evening and weekend appointments.

Is this good news?  Probably not.

While patients will doubtless appreciate increased options, there are downsides to the strategy. 

Making it too convenient to be seen will likely result in many patients checking in for symptoms that would remit safely on their own in a few days.

While most patients will get good care off hours a good number will fall prey to false positive tests and run the risk of becoming medicalized (over diagnosed). These individuals would be better off staying home or at work.

Moreover, it is unlikely that patients would see their own doctor, making the visit tantamount to a walk in clinic visit, more expensive and less accurate.

From this perch, the marketing of extended hours, is more an homage to the bottom line, than a concern for patient care.

It's basically a case of clinic administrators, dressed in the robes of public service, looking for patients.