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an Economist Intelligence Unit business healthcare

The Food Hospital

November 7th 2011

The Food Hospital is a new Maverick and Channel 4 production exploring the use of foods and diets as medicine. We are all familiar with the “5 a day” general healthy eating message. The Food Programme explores, though, the impact that specific foods may have on specific conditions. In the programme, people with certain conditions - ranging from diabetes to migraines - enter The Food Hospital and are “prescribed” certain foods or diets, to see whether they improve their condition. It also separately investigates other food claims such as so-called “super foods”, providing examples of alternative foods that offer similar nutritional value and often at a lower price.

The programme is supported by an online resource centre, to which Bazian, NHS Choices, the Wellcome Trust and Sense About Science have contributed. Alongside general information about the conditions, the programme’s supporting website contains evidence summaries, produced by Bazian. These summaries involved a rapid but systematic search of the literature, focusing on high level research such as guidelines and systematic reviews, examining the claims about the effects of specific foods on specific conditions. The evidence was synthesised to produce a narrative summary aimed at the general public.

The evidence we identified helps to reinforce the message that a well-balanced diet has a positive effect on our health and well-being, but specific foods are not a panacea.

To see our evidence summaries about individual foods or diets go to the condition pages: http://foodhospital.channel4.com/conditions

To see any of the episodes again go to: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-food-hospital/4od