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Cracknell calls for responsible reporting on health and fitness

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Media organisations need to provide responsible health reporting to avoid compounding the UK’s growing obesity and inactivity epidemic, says Health Club Management editor Kate Cracknell.

The call for considered reportage comes after claims made on the website of a national newspaper following the appearance of 5:2 diet advocate Dr Michael Mosley on ITV’s This Morning; with the piece suggesting that people don't tend to lose weight from going to the gym.

Cracknell, who made the comments in her leader column for the latest edition of Health Club Management, is one of a growing number of industry observers to call for more accurate and responsible reporting.

“People listen to those held up by the media as ‘health gurus’, especially when their name is preceded by the title of doctor. If someone in this position urges people not to exercise but to diet, offering them a novel way to do so – such as the 5:2 diet – this is what they’re likely to do,” says Cracknell.

“But in the process, they would miss out on all the other scientifically proven benefits of exercise that go far beyond weight loss: the prevention of cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases, as well as mental health conditions such as depression and Alzheimer's, to name just a few.”

Media interpretations of comments made about diets and exercise have also spurred reaction from other health industry leaders.

“It’s extremely troubling when so-called experts make controversial statements which secure column inches and book sales but which ultimately damage our already poor public health,” said John Treharne, CEO at Gym Group.

Beyond skipping over the health benefits of exercise, Cracknell believes that people should be encouraged to be more active as opposed to being given the easy chance to simply decide against it based on negligent arguments.

“At a time when the nation is dying from obesity and related conditions, it’s quite simply irresponsible for the media to give people grounds to opt out of activity,” Cracknell added.

Elsewhere, Health Club Management editorial director Liz Terry has called for more consistency in reporting, to ensure that the right messages are delivered. “Journalists needs to be more responsible about the way they report on these challenges or we will end up drowning in a sea of fat,” she said.

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Media organisations need to provide responsible health reporting to avoid compounding the UK’s growing obesity and inactivity epidemic, says Health Club Management editor Kate Cracknell.
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Cracknell says the media must consider the wider implications of the way it reports on diet and exercise / Health Club Management
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