Dr Michael Mosley.
Just when we think we know what Dr Michael Mosley does, he does something else. Whether it is investigating the impact of e-cigarettes, trying various forms of high impact exercise or looking at the benefits of using turmeric, Michael is a man on a mission, in fact he is a man on a lot of missions.
We were lucky enough to chat to him shortly before he sets off for a tour of the UK……..
Looking at the various topics you have covered in recent years it is almost as if you were investigating the perils of modern living, from e cigarettes to sugar and air pollution – these are not problems that would have troubled our ancestors. How much are we to blame for the diseases we are suffering from?
That is absolutely right and I suppose in a way I am investigating ways of tackling these problems that are a bit less conventional than has been done in the past – and in these talks I am doing I am discussing and debunking all of the myths that have sprung up about healthy eating, exercise and dieting – the hamster wheel that we seem to be on, going nowhere fast! There are a lot of things that doctors and dieticians tell you that are frankly, wrong and are not rooted in science at all but just received ‘wisdom’ that we keep on recylcing.
On my first day in medical school the Dean announced to the whole room ‘You will learn a huge amount in 5 years, and in the following five years a lot of it will be out of date!’ and the sad reality is that doctors are busy and I see part of my mission in life as educating the medical profession too. Luckily, I have a lot of friends in the medical profession across the world, both doctors and researchers so I am able to say things that are backed by research which is key to all of this.
80% of my friends are either on, or going on, one of your regimes – I guess you are aware of how many people are utilising them……
I love to hear success stories – this is what it is all about and, for example MP Tom Watson is a great example, he was a big chap but didn’t want to go the way of other overweight politicians so he bought the books and stuck to it and lost 90 lbs and reversed his type 2 diabetes and that is what I find so encouraging.
Dieting and the choices we make is so much easier for adults, but restricting what children eat and are exposed with the plethora of advertising junk food etc is a different issue – what is your advice for parents.
I am not advocating fasting for kids – though there is a version of that which is suitable. Really the best advice I can give is don’t give them snacks all of the time. There was a time when kids would spend four and a half hours between meals – now it is barely 45 minutes. When they come back from school don’t give them something chocolatey, you have control over them until they are about 14, my kids weren’t allowed fruit juice or fizzy drinks and complained bitterly when their cousins were drinking that and they were drinking water – but you are a parent and you are giving your children their dietary habits – for life. When my kids first left home they binged on rubbish – but it didn’t last, and they soon went back to the sensible eating habits they had been given at home. You have to be tough, of course treats are available but teaching bad eating habits is as bad as giving a child a packet of cigarettes – and no parent would do that. Just because they want it doesn’t mean they should have it.
I read recently that to be a parent isn’t the same as being a friend and sometimes you just have to be resolute….
Absolutely right and being on a mobile phone throughout mealtimes is such a bad example too. The only city in the world that has managed to reverse childhood obesity is Amsterdam. They did it for the hard to reach groups and poorer areas of the city by banning anything except milk or water from schools, they banned all the fast food restaurants from serving kids under 16 anything other than an apple unless a parent was present and they banned all advertising of junk food and drinks from the surrounding area. It was tough, but childhood obesity has dropped by 20%, so it can be done but it costs money and needs resolute action.
We seem to be surrounded by temptation and it really is hard to resist – and yet there have been some notable and very high-profile successes which serve to make the point that with determination we can all do it.
Absolutely, Tom Watson is a prime example. As a politician with young children he was determined not to go the way of other politicians who do lead a hectic and stressful life and suffer the associated health problems. He bought my books, got organised and lost 90 lbs and reversed his type 2 diabetes, a real success story.
How does the tour itself work?
It is the first time that I have done this in the UK – I did it in Australia last year and that worked so I am going to be talking about my life in telly, working with John Cleese and the lovely Jeremy Clarkson and I will be showing some clips of that. I have been in the BBC for 30 years – the first 10 years I was a director, the next ten a producer and then my time in front of the camera and some of the highlights of that. There will be a new book in January too and that is really exciting – a huge amount of myth busting including the fact that the best way to lose weight is to go on a crash diet – exactly the opposite of what we have all been told. This is the best way to lose weight and keep it off so that will create some waves I guess…….and I do like creating a wave when it leads to better and healthier lifestyles
Portion sizes have changed too it seems and we are given a lot more than perhaps we need or is good for us….
Well a huge portion of salad is not a problem at all, that will fill you up, but it is the other things we eat. The food industry is very clever, people think it is all about sugar and sure that is a part of it, but there is sort of magic formula that I will be sharing with people about what makes fast food so hideously addictive. We blame ourselves, we blame people for being overweight, but these foods have been engineered to make sure we want more and they know just how to tickle your fancy with the ratio of fat to sugar etc. So we need to know how to identify these foods and how to stop ourselves falling into their trap. I am not saying never give in to a fast food snack, but just be pragmatic about it, and be aware of what you are eating and why you find it so appealing – and limit your intake accordingly. There is no point in giving people advice that is too hard to follow, people must be able to live their lives and I have some new regimes and suggestions which I will be sharing on my tour.
Who do you share your life with?
My wife is a GP and I met her on that first day at medical school – another thing the Dean said was ‘four of you in this room will marry’, right again Dean!
I have 4 kids and they are all grown up now, the youngest is 19 and just heading off to University.
You have some great recipes in the book – who designs them?
My wife writes the recipes for the books and is doing research with Oxford and other research institutes about de prescribing – fewer drugs in other words. There are alternatives to taking drugs and we need to identify what they are and buy into it. She tries the recipes out, gets patient feedback etc and so is very much part of this whole process.
Another thing that I feel strongly about is that we need to understand how our body works – we know how our car works, we can sort our bikes out but when it comes to how we ourselves work we are woefully ignorant. I have some exciting new regimes in the pipeline and as well I am, of course, looking at exercise.
Talking of exercise, we saw you busting some moves on the telly – will you be joining the ranks of Strictly?
Well I think you have to be asked – but I can tell you that I would certainly be the comedy factor, I enjoy dancing but somehow don’t think I am a natural!
Tickets available from: https://www.ticketline.co.uk/dr-michael-mosley#tour www.drmichaelmosley.co.uk