A new test is being developed to help doctors tell exactly what we’re eating. A giant step forward for healthcare or an invasion of our privacy? Would you be happy to take a test like this?
Have you ever lied to your doctor? How much exercise do you really do? Have you actually stopped smoking, or do you still have a crafty puff with a drink?
Are you sure you’re only drinking 10 units a week (with that sneaky ciggy)? What about eating five a day? No! More like eight, doc, honest.
I’m sure we’ve all fudged these, and other, questions a little in the past. We all know by now what we should be doing – or not doing – to stay healthy. But many of us still fall short of the ideal to keep in tip top condition. I know I do.
What’s really in your diet?
So what if we couldn’t lie to the doctor, and our doctors could ask our bodies?
Far-fetched? Big brother-ish? Possibly. But not complete science fiction. Recent news shows that scientists have developed a prototype test which allows them to see what people have eaten in the last week. Still in its early stages, the test is able to identify the chemical ‘fingerprint’ of foods after they’ve been, ahem, ‘disposed of’.
Currently they’re able to identify raspberries, broccoli, orange juice and salmon, and they can only be identified through specialist lab tests. But it’s predicted that commercial ‘dip-stick’ tests for virtually every ingredient in food could be available within five years.
These could offer doctors another tool to help monitor the eating habits of patients with serious, medical weight problems. They could also potentially establish links between diet and disease.
Would you consent?
Interesting concept. But a test is only as good as the permission given. I’m not sure I’d agree to it. In fact, I’d probably feel insulted by the implication that everybody lies. But what if such a test were to become obligatory in order to continue with treatment? Would that celebratory one-off feast count against getting the best help you need?
So is this another case of Big Brother/Nanny State* (*delete as applicable)? Or does it have value when the cost of obesity to the NHS is currently so high?