Consumers should apply ‘sniff test’ on unsupported health advice

Doctors have applauded major supermarkets for removing from their shelves a magazine promoting non-evidence-based health advice

2GB’s Ben Fordham spoke to UNSW Associate Professor of Medical Science Dr Darren Saunders, who had been surprised to see What Doctors Don’t Tell You magazine for sale while shopping.

The magazine’s current edition, touted as “helping you make better health choices,” lists among its key articles, “Slipped discs or pinched nerves? Heal your spine without surgery;” and “Protect yourself from Wi-Fi and 5G: A step-by-step guide to staying safe”.

It also has an article discussing the use of hydrogen gas to treat heart disease and type 1 diabetes.

The magazine’s social media promotes anti-vaccination material.


Dr Saunders commented that, “There’s a reason doctors don’t tell you the stuff that’s in here, and that’s because a lot of it’s dangerous”.

Such publications could lead readers to begin to accept harmful conspiracy theories, he said.

“What is Coles and Woolies doing, allowing these nutcases to spread this dangerous stuff at their checkouts?” asked Mr Fordham, taking to social media to question Coles and Woolworths.


Both supermarkets responded by removing the magazine from sale.

Woolworths said in a statement to 2GB that “the decision to stock a magazine doesn’t mean we endorse the editorial views it holds” and that “as always, we would encourage our customers to seek and follow expert medical advice”.

In its statement to 2GB, Coles said that, “What Coles was shown when they were originally shown the magazine, was different content to what is in this edition”.

“We encourage everyone to listen to health authorities on COVID-19,” said Coles.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners welcomed Coles’ and Woolworths’ reaction.

“I applaud the decision of Coles and Woolworths to exercise sound corporate responsibility and pull this magazine from their shelves,” said national president Dr Harry Nespolon.

“Doctors aren’t keeping anything from you, we are working as hard as we can to help our patients every day.

“Now, more than ever, we need to heed expert medical advice and ignore pseudo-scientific nonsense and myths that will ‘cure’ COVID-19 and all else.

“I understand that people are anxious and suffering from information overload but please apply a ‘sniff test’ to information you are seeing on social media or supermarket shelves.”

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