Tag Archives: Health

Trans-fats: health time bomb by regulatory omission

Although several European countries, starting with Denmark, have started a battle against trans-fats in process food, the European Commission is dragging its feet to regulate on the matter. As food-related matters are about to take centre stage during Christmas and other end-of-the-year celebrations, EuroScientist looks at what is happening behind the scenes. As more and more stakeholders in the food sector are gradually signing up to reducing the use of partially hydrogenated plant oils in their products, the delays in taking regulatory action appear to be attributable to more than mere bureaucratic inertia. Read more [...]

From Mindful Nation to Mindful Europe

Mindfulness is credited with helping people undergo an inner transformation, which could help bring about change in the world. In an opinion piece, former British MP, Chris Ruane, talks about the recommendation of a new UK report, called Mindful Nation, to ensure that the mental health benefits of mindfulness can be brought to areas as diverse as education, health, criminal justice and the work place. He also shares his vision on how this practice could be extended at EU-wide level, with further adoption by MPs and MEPs across the political sprectrum. Read more [...]

Nerves of steel: carte blanche to Europe’s atmospheric polluters

In this investigative piece of pan-European journalism, EuroScientist focuses on a case study showing how an evidence-based approach could inform policies that are better suited to protect EU citizens. In this article, we focus on the case of the steel industry. It appears to have managed to render ineffective in protecting the health of EU citizens a 2010 Directive regulating industrial emissions, due to come into force in 2016. The piece reveals how decision-making mechanisms have ultimately been dampened down by many lobbying and political compromises. As a result, industry has been left to decide which tests are to be implemented to control harmful emissions, without the obligation of implementing what available evidence considers the most effective technology. Read more [...]

Nudge towards effective harm reduction

In the past, policy makers assumed that governments could only change behaviours through rules and regulations. now they are designing programmes that reflect how people really act, as a means to induce behavioural change. The ‘nudge’ theory opens the way for nuanced and pragmatic harm reduction policies, argues Alberto Alemanno, who is Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law and Risk Regulation at the Paris School for Business and Management, France. Read more [...]

Do drug programs really work?

Drugs are a modern plague. It is difficult to develop effective policies and programmes based on objective evidence. Indeed,the evidence base for prevention programmes is rather patchy. Françoise Dubois-Arber, from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUSMP) at Lausanne University Hospital, in Switzerland, shares her views on what works and what does not, when it comes to drug prevention programmes. Read more [...]

Juggling with drinking patterns, culture and policy responses

Alcohol is addictive. Global action to reduce harmful use is already underway. But governments still struggle to implement effective policies against drink abuse.It now imperative that policy-makers appreciate the complex individual, societal and cultural factors that affect their work. Marjana Martinic, deputy president at the International Center for Alcohol Policies, Washington, D.C. USA, shares her views on how diverse interventions have been tested and are likely to be appropriate and enjoy public support. Read more [...]

The ethics of intervening in addicts’ lives

Philosophical puzzles apply in public health too. In addiction, there is a subtle balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the State. Particularly, when it comes to intervening in the lives of people addicted to substances such as tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs. Here, Julian Kinderlerer, professor of intellectual property law at Cape Town University, South Africa, who is also president of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), outlines all the facets of the ethical dilemma associated with State intervention towards addiction, and places the role of scientists and ethicists in informing a balanced debate. Read more [...]

Blowback – Spy scandal threatens European research

The Snowden fallout it far from being over. One of its consequences is the European Parliament’s text for upcoming Data Protection legislation. The draft proposal has resulted in some of the largest, most prestigious, non-commercial research organisations in Europe being up in arms. They warn that the EU is set to strangle health-saving research. In this feature article, EuroScientist investigates what could be the possible consequences, should the legislation does not make suitable exception to allow research of potential future societal value and privacy at all costs becomes the new rule. Read more [...]

One step too far for legendary Danish transparency

Imagine that all the information including the health data, the intimate personal problems, the social references together with the results of your blood tests and all prescribed medicines in the past seven years have been sent to a database and stored under your unique personal identity number. This is what happened in Denmark. It is the result of a mandatory programme ordered by the Danish regional health authorities. When people realised that such data had been used for research without the consent of individuals, it created a massive scandal in a country known for its transparency policies. This unfortunate episode is a good illustration of how things can go wrong when data privacy issues are not being fully taken into account. Can other European countries learn from the Danish experience? Read more [...]

The science of sleep, the sleep of scientists

Sleep. We all need it. From working long hours in the lab or field, researchers often get much less sleep than the average person requires. Conducting research into the twilight hours is prevalent in all fields of science, from life science to particle physics. But the cognitively demanding tasks of conducting experiments and analysing data require a clear mind. So how do scientists manage their research—let alone their personal lives—with little rest? Here, a few scientists share lessons about sleep they have learned from their life and work. Read more [...]