I have just watched a TV programme called the Junk Food Experiment overseen by Dr Michael Moseley.

His willing guinea pigs included singer Peter Andre, The Chase mastermind and barrister Shaun Wallace, MP Nadine Dorries, Coronation Street actress Hayley Tamaddon, Olympian Tessa Sanderson and Made In Chelsea star Hugo Taylor.

I felt compelled to watch it again as it left me feeling quite shocked at the effect that inappropriate choices of food can have on my body.  When I had seen it once, I thought wow!, that’s interesting, then the next time, I thought I want to tell everyone about it.

It’s underlying message is really important – I highly recommend you watch it for yourself.  It appeared on ITV in Feb 2019 and will be available in the ITV Hub. (Not sure how long though!)

Here is a summary of the celebrities results:

Shaun Wallace

Shaun Wallace, a self confessed ‘junk food junkie’, before he even started the experiment, was in danger of becoming diabetic.  Shaun is a mastermind in pub quizzes, and during the experiment, was struggling with questions that were really easy.

Before the experiment it was noted that he had the beginnings of sleep apnoea, his lifestyle of junk food could already have contributed to his sleep apnoea, and with the intensity of the junk food diet could have pushed him into full blown sleep apnoea.

Shaun does lots of exercise and has a good level of fitness, however was told he was at increased risk of heart disease because of the diet.

Shaun Wallace

Hugo Taylor

Hugo Taylor, is a health food fanatic.

He wanted to bring attention to the dangerous issue of junk food consumption but was so stressed by the fast-food regime that he thought he was going to die.

He suffered a full blown anxiety attack and he left in the first week of the experiment.

Hugo Taylor

Peter Andre

Peter Andre known for his Six-Pack, confessed to being a lover of junk food. He works out six times a week and believes that gives him a free pass to eat what he wants!

As the experiment continued Peter was surprised to find his enjoyment of junk food didn’t wane, so Dr Moseley sent him for an MRI scan.  The scan showed his brain might be hard-wired to crave junk food, with the results exceeding those of many extremely obese people.

The on-going medical assessments during the experiment began to suggest that fat was building around Peter’s vital organs and Dr Michael Mosley, warned Peter that he was putting himself at risk of liver failure, adding:

Exercise is great but you just can’t outrun a bad diet.

Peter Andre

Nadine Dorries

Nadine Dorries had healthy gut bacteria before the experiment, which was destroyed to the point where she had all the signs of inflammatory bowel disease.

She was scheduled to make a speech to parliament, on childhood obesity, and had to write it out as she was having difficulty focusing and remembering things, and was concerned about being distracted by the stabbing pains in her gut.

Doctors explained the diet had done so much damage that it would put her at increased risk of cancer, heart failure and kidney problems, this news left Nadine “totally floored”.

Nadine Dorries

Tessa Sanderson

Tessa Sanderson, responded so badly to the regime, on a doctors advise she quit early due to risk of a stroke.

She lives a pretty healthy lifestyle, eats lots of fresh food and does regular exercise, and was as healthy as someone half her age.

Tessa took ill after her week of burgers, she woke up one morning with a thumping headache, and when her previously healthy blood pressure was checked, it was dangerously high.

Tessa Sanderson

Hayley Tamaddon

Hayley Tamaddon has a history of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and said:

“I want to do this experiment to prove it is all about what you eat that affects your body, whether you’ve got IBS or not.”

After two weeks of junk food, Hayley experienced such severe stomach pain that the Doctor recommended that she leave the experiment. The doctor was concerned that by continuing, the damage done might be irreversible. 

Hayley Tamaddon

Dr Mosley also took part in the experiment, taking on a 6,000 calorie mega burger, leaving him with a higher body temperature which indicated how hard his body was working to digest.  His blood fats doubled temporarily putting him at risk of heart attack.

He swallowed a ‘recording pill’ which monitored his temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood fat levels, and also his arteries using ultra sound – to see if they increased in stiffness.

His temperature went up, as did his heart rate, which showed how hard his body was working to digest this mega burger.  His blood fats doubled, a heart attack and stroke became a temporary possibility, and there was temporary reduced elasticity of his artery walls, just from one mega burger.

Only 3 celebrities made it to the end of the experiment….

Only Shaun, Nadine and Peter made it to the end of the experiment.

While some experienced weight gain, much of what went on was invisible to the eye.

They all suffered, some from one issue and others from more than one:

  • IBS
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Panic attacks
  • Bloating
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Headaches
  • Loss of energy
  • Brain fog

The long term health risks didn’t bare thinking about.

They all vowed never to eat junk food again. 

The Convenince Of Fast Food

Fast food shops have increased by 34% since 2010, one in 6 older teenagers eat fast food twice a day and the national average of junk food takeaways is twice a week.

After Peter’s MRI it became clear that if you eat junk food regularly it can wire your brain to crave it more, and become dependant on it. Eating junk food activates the same areas of the brain as addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol.   The bits of the brain that light up is the reward centre of the brain. This could explain why so many of us are overeating and hooked on junk food.

Fast Food Delivery

We have 100 trillion microbes and bacteria that live in and on us, most of them live in the gut.  We have up to 2 kgs of bacteria living in our intestines, they use the fibre in our diet make chemicals to keep us healthy by supporting our immune systems.

There is not much fibre in junk food!!

If we don’t have healthy immune systems it can lead to intolerance to some foods and can cause inflammation, such as bloating, stuffy nose, headaches, itchy skin, and aching joints, and much more.

The effect on sleep…

All the participants noticed that their sleep was affected, they felt wired, and some of them woke up every hour.

Sleep expert Dr Ian Smith analysed their sleep data. ‘ There is a much bigger swing in their blood sugar levels, and the levels of their hormones, particularly insulin.  These swings are peaking and helping them get to sleep and then getting them into troughs which are waking them up throughout the night.’

So what is going on in the nation? 

Apparently it is common to binge twice a day on junk food, Britain scoffs 22 million take away meals every week. We know we’re meant to eat well, but sometimes it’s just easier and we think it’s cheaper to whack a frozen pizza in the oven.

Pizza’s are tasty, easy to prepare and last for ages, as opposed to cooking fresh food which can take a bit longer and doesn’t last as long as pizza’s that can be stored for months in the freezer.

Delivery of fast food has gone up 73% in the past decade, fuelling fast consumption even further. Parliament is considering a radical solution of smaller portions for fast food.

So What Happened Next?

Healthy Meal

At the end of the experiment the participants went cold turkey, and suffered with terrible headaches, bloating, trembling and sweating.

Dr Moseley ended the experiment by inviting the participants to a feast of healthy food – leafy greens, fruit, vegetable, whole grains, unrefined carbs, and simple proteins like those found in fish.  He told them that this kind of food would tackle the damage the junk food had caused.

Food is an essential part of all of our lives, so it is important that we make good choices and plan ahead of shopping, and don’t shop when you are hungry otherwise you might be tempted to sneak a pizza into the shopping trolley.  If you don’t plan your meals then it’s much easier to slide back into unhealthy eating.

Eating the rainbow, is something worth considering. I love lots of colours on my plate, a variety of foods will help us feel good and give us energy. We can get this by ensuring we have unrefined carbohydrate, protein – possibly less meat, and loads of vegetables and fruit.

I feel deprived when I think that there are certain foods that I shouldn’t have.  I find a way around this by planning my lunches and dinners with healthy food that I really like.  It just takes time and investment in my welfare.  Easily said, not so easily done.

Be brave with your food choices, be open to try something new, explore new tastes and flavours.  Spices, herbs, chilli, garlic and more, can transform basic food into something that makes your mouth water.

Give your body what it needs so it will function at its very best!

Has this shocked you as much as it did me?  Feel free to share your thoughts by commenting below…