Chris van Tulleken behaved just as millions of college kids have behaved – at least from a nutritional standpoint – and now believes it has cost him a decade of life.
But he’s far from a college-age consumer; he’s a British physician who used his body as a test subject in a documentary-type production by eating an absolutely awful diet for four weeks.
“I was anxious, depressed — and it was all self-perpetuating,” van Tulleken, a BBC health broadcaster, told the Telegraph.
So just what did van Tulleken, 42, an infectious diseases doctor for the University College London Hospital system, put into his system?
Foods rife with chemicals and absent much nutrition: frozen pizza, fried chicken, fish sticks, cereals and other notorious ready-made meals.
He also wrote a first-person story for the (U.K.) Daily Mail, beginning with:
“A mere four weeks — that’s all it took for me to pile on enough fat to move from being a healthy weight to being overweight, putting my health at real risk.
“At the same time, my thinking became sluggish and I slept badly, lying in bed racked with anxiety … But worst of all, my brain rewired itself just as if I had developed an addiction to a drug of abuse. …
“For one month, under scientific supervision, I consumed 80 percent of my calories from ultra-processed foods (or UPFs).”
Van Tulleken said six weeks after filming, “I had a third MRI: the changes in my brain had not reversed.”
In the U.S., 73% of adults are considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and that 60% of the American diet consists of processed foods.
Van Tulleken hopes to see more explicit food labeling.
“I just want there to be a warning on the packet saying this food is associated with increases in obesity, cancer and death,” he said.