We get the Radio Times, the 'thinking person's' guide to what's on British TV and radio every week. It was Ben who pointed out the 8 page supplement stapled into the centre of next week's issue: The Fast Diet by a doctor that's been on TV quite a lot. Ouch, I thought to myself, this isn't good...
I know that January is the season of faddy and crash diets, but Ben and I feel there's so much wrong with this one. Especially as it's written by a doctor, backed by 'science' (tests on mice, it appears, plus tests on 33 obese volunteers in the States) and - presumably - endorsed by the Radio Times (Radio Times is printed on the title page, plus As first seen in Radio Times, just in case you want further endorsement).
Apparently you eat normally for 5 days of every week. Then on the other 2 you fast. Women eat around 500 calories a day and men around 600.
And, right at the end, under Who should avoid fasting? it says "...anyone suffering from an eating disorder".
Now I have a problem with that.
As Ben says: "I didn't know I had an eating disorder, not for several months. I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea what. Now, if I'd come across this fasting diet back then, I'd have lapped it up. Especially as it features in the Radio Times which we get every week."
And doubtless he might have been tempted to follow the diet for more than 2 days of every week...
Also, to be honest, would someone "suffering from an eating disorder" really and truly look at this warning at the end of the diet and think: "Oh, I'd better not do this, then." And discard it.
What do you think?
Maybe it's just the fact that these 8 pages in the Radio Times are a snapshot of the book this doctor is promoting (although nowhere do I see the words "Advertisement Feature"...) but I can't help but get the impression that the majority of tests have been done on mice. Not humans. Apart from those 33 obese humans mentioned at the top of this post.
And I was extremely worried by the paragraph: As one of the medical experts interviewed for the Fast Diet book puts it: "There is nothing else you can do to your body that is as powerful as fasting."
The idea is that this particular 2 days on, 5 days off diet is better than complete Calorie Restriction (referred to as CR) is that it apparently offers the "benefits of CR, but without the pain". About CR, the article says: "Calorie restriction (CR) is pretty brutal; it involves eating an awful lot less than a normal person would expect to eat, and doing so every day of your - hopefully - long life. The reason people put themselves through this is that it is the only intervention that has been shown to extend lifespan..."
Oh, but then it suddenly adds: "At least in animals."
Does this worry me? You bet it does!
The doctor says that people "began to stop me on the street" and tell him they were doing the 2 days on, 5 days off diet. He also got emails. "Among those emails, a surprisingly large number were from doctors."
Gah, more 'official endorsement' of his diet...
After that, there's an awful lot about experimenting on mice.
I know that this is just one of hundreds, possibly thousands of crash diets that are flooding the market as they usually do in January. I also know that the vast majority of people that diet are believed to put all the weight back on again. But there is a small minority that are vulnerable and who may find this high-profile Radio Times fasting diet triggering.
And these are the people that I am worried about.
What does everyone else think?