Sometimes, very occasionally, I wish I had been born a few decades ago. They were simpler times, in many ways.
For instance, we’re now facing a modern problem that our parents’ generation never had to tackle: we don’t know who to trust.
Because practically everyone has an opinion, and practically anyone is able to create a slick website and a convincing social media stream to demonstrate just how much they know about a certain topic.
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Where this plays out with the most dire consequences is when supposed “experts” start sharing their personal health philosophies.
Remember Belle Gibson?
She had the whole world – or at least, a big chunk of Australia – convinced that she was able to use natural therapies and alternative healing methods to battle aggressive brain cancer.
She had an app and a book and an uplifting media persona, so the public quickly accepted her story as fact, and blindly followed her advice.
There’s no real way to measure how much damage her fraud caused, or how many people she lead astray, away from potentially life-saving medical treatment.
There are also people like Loni Jane, the Brisbane based health blogger with over 330,000 Instagram followers who gained fame for eating 20 bananas a day while pregnant. She’s also got a book, of course – yours for just $35 – which encourages followers to follow a diet that is 80 per cent fruits and vegetables, 10 per cent protein and 10 per cent fat.
It’s not that what she suggests is “wrong”, per se, but her methods are extreme – and any pregnant woman who follows her advice and starts chewing through over a dozen bananas a day, without seeking out the opinion of their obstetrician and nutritionist, is (in my humble opinion) an absolute idiot.
The problem I’ve got with all of this is that regular people trust those who they consider to be “health experts”, which can lead to tragic consequences.
Such was the case in April, when Michael Clayton was supplied with a fentanyl patch by his personal trainer friend, Chris Walmsley. It was provided as an aid to a muscle injury, following a gym workout, but after taking the drug and going to sleep, Michael never woke up. His friend has since been charged over Michael’s death. What a tragic, senseless, avoidable death.
It reinforces my belief that without formal medical qualifications, you are not a health expert. Anyone claiming otherwise should be regarded with extreme caution, lest you pay the ultimate price.
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