World's Best Diet Series Finale

Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 8:00PM – 9:00PM

In part two of the challenge to find what could be the world’s best diet, presenter Jonathan Maitland and four overweight celebrities – Linda Robson, Cheryl Baker, Darren Gough and Carole Malone – continue their journey to discover why other nations are bucking the obesity trend and how they compare to the UK.

From raw fish in Japan to the low-carb diet in California; from vegetarian curry in India to the Mediterranean diet in Italy – each of the celebrities travels to a different nation, immersing themselves in the local cultural attitude towards healthy living and learning to cook their food.

They are challenged to maintain their regime when they return to the UK for a further five weeks to see who will lose the most weight and emerge the healthiest. At the same time, presenter Jonathan examines, with the help of nutritionist Amanda Ursell and dietician Dr Catherine Collins, what has happened to our eating habits in the UK and why 25 per cent of us are now obese. And he also joins the diet challenge by reverting back to the typical post-war diet that his parents would have followed.

In this episode, Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson lands in Japan, where only 3 per cent of people are obese and they live longer, healthier lives than anyone else in the world. Jonathan attempts to stick to a traditional British diet, eating three healthy meals a day, sensible portions and turning his back on all snacks. And celebrity newspaper columnist Carole Malone jets off to LA, home to Hollywood and the beautiful people and where tough exercise regimes and dieting are a way of life.

At just over 13 stone, Carole is overwhelmed by the perfectly toned bodies of the California beauties surrounding her.

“I want to cover up here,” Carole jokes. “I want to go to a shop now and buy a T-shirt, a big baggy thing and hide because there is not a fat person on this street. There’s a part of me that says, ‘Who cares what they think,’ but of course you do care. When you are overweight, you always care what other people think. If I was living here full time, I’d have to be a lot slimmer than I am.”

In search of her own skinny frame, Carole adopts the popular low carb diet, which means plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish and chicken and absolutely no bread, pasta or other high-carb foods.

She meets up with former Blue Peter presenter Katy Hill, who has been in LA for two years, for some support. “My lifestyle has changed hugely from being here,” says Katy. “I put on five stone when I was pregnant with my daughter and I was still carrying quite a lot of that baby weight when we landed here. That was quite a culture shock because people are tiny here. I remember being in a big hotel in LA having lunch with a British girlfriend and we ordered the bread basket and you could literally hear all the women in the restaurant go, “Uh! They’re eating bread!”

“Everything’s geared much more to fitness here, you can be outdoors so much more because of the weather. In restaurants there’s always a healthy option, in supermarkets the organic produce is amazing. It’s easy to be healthy in LA.”

But it’s not so easy for Carole who is put through a punishing fitness regime by celebrity fitness trainer Michael George – running endlessly up staircases and working out as much as three times a day on the beach.

In Japan, Linda Robson is not finding it any easier. The national diet consists of plenty of noodles, rice and vegetables, with the main protein being soya and fish. The Japanese eat three and a half times the amount of fish that we do in the UK. Low in fat and sugar, these foods ensure obesity levels are the lowest in the developed world.

But Linda is having trouble swallowing one of its main staples – raw fish! Invited for dinner by the Kato family, she can’t keep the specially prepared sashimi down. “I’m really embarrassed now,” she says. “Maybe I should have started with the dumpling and worked my way up.”

She is impressed, however, with the other dishes and how the whole family prepares the food and eats together – something her own family rarely does. Eating with chopsticks also slows things down and reduces the amount of food consumed.

Her guide and food writer Kimiko Barber explains: “There’s a saying in Japanese, ‘Hari hachi abumni,’ means basically tummy 80 per cent. You should never eat up to when you feel full, bloated or stuffed, but you should leave the table as you are thinking, ‘I’d like a bit more.’”

Linda and Carole have learned an incredible amount through their travels but will they be able to apply any of it to their normal routines in the UK?

As the programme continues, Linda finds sticking to a Japanese diet a near impossibility with her busy work schedule and makes the mistake of turning to oriental take-away meals.

A lack of carbohydrates is leaving Carole in a terrible rage and the newspaper columnist is finding giving up wine, which is high in carbohydrates, a real challenge.

She explains: “I’ve been invited to a few parties, dinner parties, drinks things and they’re all monstrously boring. I get there and we all start off the same and then people have a few glasses a wine and I have my fizzy water and within an hour I am gagging to go home because everyone starts repeating themselves and you think they are terribly interesting and they’re not because I’ve heard it all before 10 minutes ago. And I know that’s what I’m like when I’ve had a few drinks. And it just makes your social life deathly, deathly dull.”

And Jonathan, who is attempting to revert back to a traditional British diet, is struggling to resist his snack addiction forcing his mentor top chef Ed Baines to crack the whip by signing him up for a gruelling military fitness session.

As their challenge ends, the three of them rejoin Darren Gough and Cheryl Baker, who have adopted Mediterranean and Indian vegetarian diets respectively, to find out if their new eating regimes have left them any fitter and healthier.

Each is weighed and measured and their cholesterol levels are tested. Who will have lost the most weight and will that necessarily mean they are the healthiest? Will any of the participants continue on with their new eating habits? And which nation will emerge as having what could very well be the world’s best diet?

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  • Anonymous

    I think the mediterranean diet is fabulous. I recently bought the mediterranean diet book from:
    http://www.the-mediterranean-diet.co.uk
    it costs £9.99 and contains 100 recipes and 28 day diet plan. I have lost about a stone in a month.
    Highly recommended.

  • I started the mediterranean diet in January 2009 and its been the best thing ever. I feel great and so much more positive about life. The weight loss was steady all year and so far I’ve lost 30lbs, but unlike the Atkins diet, which I tried the year before, I haven’t gained back any weight. I bought my plan from http://www.mediterraneandiet.tv/ for around $15. Couldn’t recommend a mediterranean diet highly enough, regardless of which book you buy.

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