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Dolly's advice beats 'health' mags: study

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016 Andrew Leeson

Australian readers looking for health advice would be better picking up a copy of Dolly rather than any magazine with "health" in the title, according to research from the University of Newcastle.

Only half the health advice articles published in magazines with "health" in their title were based on meaningful evidence and only slightly more than a third gave clear and meaningful advice, a study of 163 articles published over six months in 2011 has found.

The research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health on Monday, found specifically-titled health magazines rated poorly on all measures and their articles were "often poorly presented and unreliable".

But it also found magazines marketed to adolescent girls, in particular Dolly magazine, performed well overall and presented information in an accessible way.

"This magazine(Dolly) provided excellent examples of ethical ways to deliver health advice and also highlighted the need for this type of advice to be provided for this particular age group," the paper 's author Dr Amanda Wilson said.

The most common health issues covered in the sample of magazines were gynaecological, female urinary tract disorders, sexually transmitted infections and contraception- or fertility-related.

The sample of magazines were selected by circulation and found Dolly provided the best advice overall ahead of other more popular magazines including Women's Day and Men's Health.

But vitamins and mineral supplements were the second most covered issue in the articles with the researchers finding a possible link between advertisements and the advice.

"We collected data on advertisements in close proximity to the advice rated and the most common advertisements were for female genitourinary products and vitamins and minerals, suggesting a possible financial conflict of interest," the paper says.

The research raised questions about the social responsibility of the media and the found articles were not generally subjected to enough rigour.

"We have shown the quality of health advice provided in magazines is generally poor. This message is important in order to raise the awareness and promote critical thinking among health consumers," Dr Wilson said.

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