Talking Sugar, Health and the 5:2 Diet with Dr Michael Mosley

One-on-one with award-winning BBC science journalist Dr Michael Mosley, the brains behind the Fast Diet and the new 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet

Best-selling author and BBC journalist Dr Michael Mosley is in Auckland this week to promote his new book, the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet, in association with Diabetes NZ. After qualifying as a doctor in London Dr Mosley went on to work as a science journalist, producer and TV presenter at the BBC, during which time he was credited with creating the hugely popular 5:2 diet.

Far from being a faddish voice in the increasingly loud diet industry, Dr Mosley brings extensive research and data to his findings. Offering such against the grain advice as rapid weight loss and restricted calorie intake Dr Mosley has set his sights on tackling what he sees as one of the greatest health problems worldwide – the increase of lifestyle-induced diabetes. He speaks to Viva on the eve of his NZ tour and sold-out talk.

Do you feel that there has been a trend away towards refined sugar but an increase in the use of natural? And do you see a potential fall out from this?
Yes, people are much more aware of the dangers of refined sugars and are subsequently taking up more natural sweeteners. The trouble is that maple, honey, and agave are still sugars. Agave, for example, has more fructose in it than table sugar. Dates and bananas are better, because they contain some fibre, but you would be best advised to reduce the sweet stuff rather than just look for a substitute.

How does the Blood Sugar Diet differ from programs like I Quit Sugar?
The main difference is my book is based on a specific science based programme aimed at achieving significant weight loss and reversing pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Are we still seeing a fall-out from the 'low-fat' years, where low-fat products were high in sugar?
Yes we are. We are also seeing a fall out from the coffee/snack culture. A fancy coffee can easily have more than ten teaspoons of sugar and also any snack you buy from popular coffee chains will be loaded with calories. Many gluten-free products now come laden with sugar and salt.

You found huge success with the 5:2 diet, how does this differ? Which would you recommend for someone wishing to find and maintain a healthy weight?
I reversed my own Type 2 diabetes by doing 5:2. In the book (The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet) I offer three programs: an 800 calorie diet to get you going, a 5:2 programme and a low carb Mediterranean maintenance programme.

Both programs consist of restricted calorie intact. What do you see as the benefits of fasting?
The benefits of changing your eating patterns include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced generalised inflammation. It is in the times when you are not eating that your body gets on with essential repairs.

Do you see different health issues around food in different cultures/countries? What do you expect to see here?
New Zealanders have similar health issues to the UK and US, with surging obesity and blood sugar problems. Just as in the UK, ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable to changes in diet.

You’re here as a guest of Diabetes NZ, do you get frustrated with the official health advice for diabetics which often sees them being advised to eat carbs and other things that research such as yours has shown to be problematic for the condition?
I am delighted to be doing the talk with Diabetes NZ. It is a huge and growing problem that needs lots of different approaches. The approach I am suggesting is different, but the research that supports it is funded by Diabetes UK, who have also given their largest ever grant to a trial of the 800 calories a day diet (The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet).

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