Simon Gault's journey of self-improvement in Why Are We Fat?

by Fiona Rae / 09 September, 2017

Help us find and write the stories Kiwis need to read

RelatedArticlesModule - TV

Simon Gault in Why Are We Fat?, Sunday.

Portly chef Simon Gault discovers the shocking truth about his health in new documentary.

Simon Gault, usually seen fixing a gimlet eye on a MasterChef contestant, is the latest chef to use his powers for good. In Why Are We Fat? (Prime, Sunday, 8.30pm), he tackles the crisis that is taking years off our lives and stretching our healthcare systems.

A shocking number of Kiwis are now overweight or obese, and it has happened in a generation. “We literally have more fat people than slim people,” says Gault.

“When you look at TV footage of people on the beach 50 years ago, you don’t see fat people. Whereas now, our children are obese, and that says a lot about us as parents as to what we’re feeding our kids.”

But if you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better get on the treadmill. Gault begins the doco with the admission that he has loved every minute of his “life of food”, but “unfortunately, I’ve become large”.

Mixed in with all the experts telling us exactly where we’ve gone wrong, Gault goes on a journey of self-improvement, especially because, like a lot of people nowadays, he has developed type-2 diabetes. This means putting his portly body on the line for science, having a battery of tests that reveal information he’d almost rather not know.

“Do I want people to see me running around with all my fat hanging out? No. I’m just like everybody else, a bit overweight and not really very proud of it. But hopefully it will help people,” he says. The most shocking test is his visit to Massey University’s “BodPod”, which measures body fat percentage. Let’s just say that Gault comes in under half.

Lifestyle changes follow, as well as investigations into gut bacteria, sleep, exercise and diet. “You see the improvements that I have in visceral fat and fat around all the organs. It’s better than having a gastric bypass,” he says. His weight loss has also made a huge difference to his diabetes.

Experts in the series include the illustrious Dr Robert Lustig, who has been campaigning against sugar and processed foods for nearly a decade. The US professor and endocrinologist says sugar is, like alcohol, an energy source but is not nutritious and we’re overwhelming our systems. “We consume three to four times the amount of sugar per day that our body can metabolise rationally,” says Lustig.

“It’s a cheap form of getting people to love something,” says Gault. “I mean if our grandparents wouldn’t recognise it as food, then we probably shouldn’t be putting it in our mouths.”

This article was first published in the September 9, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

How to know if you have coeliac disease
92118 2018-06-18 00:00:00Z Health

How to know if you have coeliac disease

by The Listener

Coeliac NZ suggests you consider getting tested if you have some or all of the following symptoms of coeliac disease.

Read more
For coeliac disease sufferers, there's hope of treatment on the horizon
92091 2018-06-18 00:00:00Z Nutrition

For coeliac disease sufferers, there's hope of tre…

by Nicky Pellegrino

As many as 100,000 New Zealanders, many of them undiagnosed, are afflicted by coeliac disease.

Read more
As Jacinda Ardern takes her baby exit - the show goes on
92466 2018-06-17 00:00:00Z Politics

As Jacinda Ardern takes her baby exit - the show g…

by Graham Adams

The PM can happily go off on maternity leave knowing there is a cast of colourful and capable people to fill the gap — most notably Winston Peters.

Read more
The Spanish flu pandemic killed more than WWI. Are we prepared for the next?
92222 2018-06-17 00:00:00Z Health

The Spanish flu pandemic killed more than WWI. Are…

by Sally Blundell

This year marks a century since a flu pandemic killed 9000 NZers. Three more such plagues have swept the world since then – and another is inevitable.

Read more
How to stay safe from the flu this winter
92238 2018-06-17 00:00:00Z Health

How to stay safe from the flu this winter

by Sally Blundell

According to research, soap and water are more effective at removing the flu virus than alcohol-based hand-rubs.

Read more
How Las Vegas gets people coming back for more
86454 2018-06-17 00:00:00Z Travel

How Las Vegas gets people coming back for more

by Sharon Stephenson

Sharon Stephenson swore once was enough, but here she is, back in Sin City.

Read more
How to understand New Zealand's political tribes
92212 2018-06-16 00:00:00Z Social issues

How to understand New Zealand's political tribes

by Jane Clifton

In New Zealand politics, small groups often exert more influence than large tribes.

Read more
Revealing Earth's secrets: How JOIDES deep earth sampling missions help us all
92306 2018-06-16 00:00:00Z Science

Revealing Earth's secrets: How JOIDES deep earth s…

by Jenny Nicholls

When an odd-looking ship came to NZ in May, few would've known it was a symbol of one of the world’s oldest and most successful scientific collabs.

Read more