Bingeing Britain: Diet Doctors Special - Wednesday October 31

bingeing britain: diet doctors special (W/T) (1/6)

Over 60 per cent of people in the UK are either overweight or obese, with many of us bingeeating ourselves into early graves. In this brand new series, six super-fit athletes have volunteered to become human lab rats for two weeks in order to illustrate what effect the nation’s favourite food is having on our bodies. The opening episode sees former showjumper Oliver Skeete tackle a huge quantity of his least-favourite dairy product.

Over 14 days, the intrepid participants will incorporate some popular, though not necessarily healthy, foodstuffs into their diets, while their exercise regimes will be restricted to the national average of just 5,000 steps a day. At the beginning of the project, the athletes will have their vital signs and statistics measured by professionals to demonstrate that they are at the peak of physical fitness. Then, after a fortnight spent gorging on the likes of chips, burgers, pizzas, kebabs and fizzy drinks, the athletes will be assessed once more to see how their bodies have changed.

In the first programme of the series, Oliver Skeete turns lab rat to see what will happen to his muscular, 50-year-old body when he abandons his exercise regime and diet in favour of a less healthy lifestyle. How will he cope when he discovers that he will be eating a pound of cheese a day for a whole fortnight?

Skeete claims that his fitness level is “not what it used to be”, but he is certainly no couch potato: he regularly goes to the gym, jogs and plays badminton. Oliver also eats well, with a fridge packed with vegetables, fruit and chicken. He has consulted his own GP and been given the all-clear to take part in the trial, and his vital signs have been measured.

Although Oliver has volunteered to take part in this challenge, there is one twist –he has no idea what he will be eating for the next fortnight. He cannot believe his eyes when he opens the box and sees nothing but cheese. “I’m not eating it!” he yells. Not only must he eat a pound of the stuff a day, but he must limit his daily exercise to 5,000 steps –a quarter of what he would usually clock up. “I’m going to end up looking like a fatty,” Oliver realises woefully. And he hates cheese!

The recommended maximum daily intake of cheese is the size of a small matchbox – but many British people can indeed put away a pound a day. This much cheese contains nearly 2,000 calories, which is almost the entire recommended daily amount for women and heading towards that for men; 7.5 grams of salt and 156 grams of fat – way above the recommended daily maximum of 95.

With these alarming facts in mind, Oliver gets started. He begins with a huge cheese, ham and pickle sandwich, which he finds almost impossible to force down. Later he must eat cheese on toast and an enormous pizza groaning with the weight of the mozzarella on it – and is already starting to feel the effects. “It’s playing havoc with my body,” he complains, inspecting his bloated stomach in despair.

As the days progress, Oliver finds that his digestive system is starting to rebel against the high-fat diet. Suffering firstly from constipation and then diarrhoea, Oliver is starting to doubt that he can finish the challenge. “I’ve done some stupid things in my time,” he says on day nine, “but this is the worst.” On day 12, he is suffering from insomnia and is counting the days. “I’ve got no fight left in me,” he sighs.

Nevertheless, Oliver manages to summon his strength and finish the challenge. How will his super-fit body have reacted to being subjected to a two-week cheese assault?

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