PARIS (AFP) — British doctors have made a tongue-in-cheek complaint to a chocolate manufacturer after the firm changed the shape of two sweets that could be used to measure testicles in pubescent boys.
The problem focuses on wrapped chocolates called Teasers and Truffles, whose 8mm oval shape was a dead ringer for a bead used in an orchidometer -- a gadget that measures testes to ensure they are developing normally.
But Teasers' and Truffles' unusual contribution to public health is now doomed after their manufacturer, Masterfoods UK, changed the shape of the chocs, leaving them bigger and flat-bottomed.
"This is a major setback to paediatric endocrinology," say Gareth Williams of the medical faculty at Bristol University and Poonam Dharmaraj, a paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.
"Clearly, the original design should be reinstated.
"With skilful marketing, this could play to the manufacturer's advantage: by including a simple package insert with clear, easy-to-feel instructions, young males could self-evaluate their pubertal status (while pointing out that this should ideally not be done at the point of sale)."
It would provide "a rare opportunity for the chocolate industry to become palpably involved in public-health promotion," suggest the pair.
Their letter appears in the end-of-the-year issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a traditional moment for publishing humorous items in the medical profession.
Other articles include a spoof study into the genetic link with magic, as based on characters in the Harry Potter series, and an exhaustive investigation into the fracturability of two honeycombed chocolate bars that doctors often use to explain bone health to patients.
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