THE BLOG

My Fight Against Obesity

10/03/2015 17:50 GMT | Updated 10/05/2015 10:59 BST

Sometime ago, I was leaving the train station and heading towards a taxi queue.

On my way, I saw a man around 50 years old, rushing alongside, suitcase in hand, breathless, trying to grab the last taxi in the queue. Given my profession I took particular note since the man was obese.

I saw him stumble and fall, so I rushed to help him stand. As I was crouched beside him, his wife hurried towards me: "Sorry! My husband is always distracted and off-balance" she said, "His weight often makes him fall."

I checked to see if he was OK, but his stare was inert, I searched for a pulse and to see if he was breathing, but he was unresponsive.

The paramedics quickly arrived, but they confirmed my fear that this man was dead. His poor wife collapsed by my side and between sobs cried "I was always telling him this obesity would eventually kill him".

I tell you this shockingly sad story because it actually happened, and happens all of the time, and I consider that sudden and unfortunate deaths like these that destroy a family could have been avoided, and MUST be prevented.

I am the author of a weight loss method that I created when I was a young doctor and nutritionist. I came to the bitter realisation that after seven years of medical practice and three in nutrition that low-calorie diets widely taught at universities and hospitals as the best way to fight obesity, are not sufficient to fighting a disease that has impacted an entire society.

At the beginning of my career as a nutritionist, when I asked my patients what caused them to gain weight, all of them told me something very similar. For about half of them, mostly women, it was sugary foods such as cakes, sodas, desserts, and biscuits and other sugar-packed snacks that made them gain weight.

For the other half, mostly men, it was starches like pasta, bread and rice. I understood very early on the negative impact of carbohydrates, and rejecting the low-calorie dogma that was at the time in place. I focused more on food categories, convinced that the value of each calorie depends greatly on its origin.

That's how I came to a diet that incorporates a selection of healthy proteins, ones that can be eaten ''as much as you want" as well as a variety of vegetables which can be eaten "as much as you can".

Moreover, at that time, I was studying anthropology and ethnology, more specifically, in the science of primitive alimentation. I was persuaded that a human's genetic programming was implemented during a period in time where carbohydrates and sugars were not readily available. As such, the fact that they are so prevalent today plays a major role in the obesity epidemic.

In 2000, after 30 years working with obese patients, I was convinced in the effectiveness and safety of this low-carb method. I wanted to spread the word to as many people as possible, so I wrote a book on the method. I was surprised at the success of the book, selling over 16 million copies in 30 languages. It was a revelation for me, the idea that it was possible to make a positive change in this dire situation.

According to the World Health Organisation, 6,850 people die every day due to obesity-related problems. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020, five years from now, two-thirds of those who are obese in the world will be obese due to their diet. However, today, apart from gastric bypass surgery, there is no other way to lose weight apart from following a weight-loss diet.

So, even if certain diets come with certain inconveniences and secondary effects such as a bit of fatigue or bad breath, it's important to not forget the true enemy. The true enemy is obesity.

The first and most dangerous of its consequences is diabetes.

  • 80% of diabetics are obese
  • 80% of blind people are diabetic
  • 50% who suffer from heart attacks are obese and/or have diabetes
  • 50% of people on kidney dialysis where the kidneys were destroyed due to excess sugars are diabetic
  • 80% of leg amputees are diabetic

So if you want to lose weight, if you don't want to find yourself one day running for a taxi, suitcase in hand, completely out of breath, it is up to you to take the decision.

There are many diets available and it is up to you to find the one that works best for you, but I will tell you about the amends I have made to the Dukan Diet. There has never been any question that my diet works for those who follow it, but the critics were right, it is strict and you have to stick to it. I have therefore adapted my Dukan Diet philosophy. Dukan Diet 2 respects the original version's philosophy to lose weight healthily and effectively, but enables a larger audience to follow and stick to the programme being less strict and more flexible.

The goal of both methods is still the same: to fight against excess insulin while reducing the consumption of sugar and to facilitate serotonin secretion - the chemical behind well-being and happiness, which helps in the motivation to lose weight.

So let me tell you a little bit about my new diet. It is based on the user following the Nutritional Staircase. Broken down this means that there are seven steps with each step corresponding to each day of the week.

The unit of measurement is the week itself, where each day is represented as a step. Starting on Monday, where the dieter focuses exclusively on protein-rich foods, each day of the week sees the dieter take a step upward in the direction towards enjoyment by being able to eat more diverse elements as the week progresses. Tuesday; vegetables are introduced, then fruits on Wednesday, bread on Thursday, cheese on Friday, carbohydrates and starches on Saturday, then finishing on Sunday with a celebration meal and glass of wine or champagne.

Each week, the dieter starts the steps once again from the beginning, Monday to Friday, in order to acquire a habit and mental conditioning essential for long-term weight loss and stabilisation.

Each month I will be updating you on my fight against obesity. In the meantime if you have any questions or would like any weight loss advice please submit your questions in the comment box below or email me at dukan@mason-williams.com and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Best wishes,

Pierre