Press Centre

The Junk Food Experiment

  • Episode:

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX):

    Wed 27 Feb 2019

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.25pm

  • Week:

    Week 09 2019 : Sat 23 Feb - Fri 01 Mar

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 13 Feb 2019

The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 19 February 2019.


The Junk Food Experiment


Britain is a nation hooked on fast food. We consume 22 million takeaway meals every week and fast food joints are dominating high streets across Britain. 


In this 90-minute programme, six famous faces have agreed to put their bodies on the line and become guinea pigs in an extreme scientific experiment to find out what our junk food lifestyle is actually doing to us. 


Singer Peter Andre, The Chase mastermind and barrister Shaun Wallace, politician Nadine Dorries, actress Hayley Tamaddon, Olympian Tessa Sanderson and TV personality Hugo Taylor have bravely given their bodies over to science to take part in an overfeeding study used by scientists to understand exactly how food can affect our bodies.


For 21 days the celebs will be overeating burgers, fried chicken and pizza – Britain’s top three favourite junk foods – for lunch and dinner. The volunteers will each spend a week eating burgers, a week eating chicken and a week eating pizza and by subjecting them to a large increase in calories – 50% more than they need - over a short period of time, the effect on their bodies could mimic that of long term consumption.


The extreme trial will take place under the watchful eye of renowned dietary expert Dr Michael Mosley and, because it’s a controlled experiment, the effects will be carefully monitored and measured.


Every seven days, they will undergo a full-body MOT at The Harley Street Health Centre, comprising a suite of over 60 different medical tests designed by their experts to reveal exactly what is happening to them.


It is regularly reported that the UK’s consumption of junk food, high in fat, salt and sugar, is alarming – with some Brits admitting to eating it twice a day - and as 1000 new junk food outlets open every year, the celebrities will also spend time working in a chicken shop to see how the meals are prepared. 


With government plans to put a calorie cap on junk food - Peter Andre becomes a takeaway delivery driver handing one family a surprise dinner which contains a much smaller portion of their favourite meal than they were expecting.  


Throughout the experiment the celebs will record how they are feeling through round the clock video diaries, including sleep cameras, as they try to cope with the demands of day-to-day life and, crucially, the programme will also reveal which of our favourite junk foods is the worst for fat, sugar and salt.


Michael’s first guinea pig is singer Peter Andre, who, despite being known as the original Mr Six-Pack, confesses to being a lover of junk food. Peter works out six times a week and believes that gives him a free pass to eat what he wants.


Peter says: “I’ve always believed that we should always focus on activity rather than what you eat. I want to see whether I’m actually right. Maybe, when you balance out bad and training, you’re fine.”


Peter starts week one eating burgers every day for lunch and dinner and his doctor wife Emily is less enamoured with his new, rather smelly, suppers. Emily says: “He’s banned from the living room because it stinks, it even smells in bed.” 


As the experiment continues Peter is surprised to find his enjoyment of junk food isn’t waning. Michael sends him for an MRI scan which shows his brain might in fact be hard-wired to crave junk food, with the results exceeding those of many extremely obese people. 


Despite his positivity, the on-going medical assessments during the experiment begin to suggest that fat is building around Peter’s vital organs and the reality of what is happening to his body begins to kick in.


Coronation Street actress Hayley Tamaddon has a history of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a digestive condition which effects 20% of people in Britain. Hayley says: ”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.” 


In week two, Hayley experiences such severe stomach pain that Michael sends her to see Dr Enam Abood, a weight management specialist at The Harley Street Health Centre, to be examined. Hayley’s tummy is so tender that the examination leaves her in tears and causes the team to have serious concerns. Dr Abood says: “I’m worried and concerned that the damage this junk food is doing might not be reversible.”


MP Nadine Dorries relies on a healthy diet and exercise to stay sharp in her Westminster day job and hasn’t eaten a burger for 20 years. Until now.


Nadine says: “I really want to do the experiment because obesity is something many people should be concerned about and it certainly worries me…I think this is going to be the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. When your health is going to be impacted, that’s pretty daunting and pretty challenging.” 


After four days of non-stop burgers, including one which she takes with her for dinner with the Prime Minister at Number 10, Nadine hits a wall: “I feel horrible. I’ve got a headache, I’ve got tremor in my fingers, and I just feel ghastly.”


Nadine worries the burgers are affecting her brain as well as her body and with an important commons appearance to make, she is worried her memory will fail her: “I’m about to go into the chamber in the House Of Commons to give a speech on childhood obesity. Normally I just deliver it myself from my head. I don’t trust myself to do that tonight, I’ve written it out. So for the first time in years I'll be reading from a speech.”


Before the experiment began, Nadine’s stool sample showed a healthy gut. As she pops into the loos at the Houses of Parliament to give another sample, Nadine is worried what her latest results will now show…


Practicing barrister Shaun Wallace is best known as the Dark Destroyer in ITV’s The Chase. Despite having a family medical history of diabetes that puts him at a higher risk, he admits to being a junk food addict.


Shaun says: “I like fast food, sometimes I am a sort of junk food junkie. I live a very hectic and busy lifestyle…Both my parents had diabetes Type 2, I didn’t want that to affect me so that’s why I want to take part in the experiment. I want to see whether it has an effect on my health.” 


It’s estimated that two thirds of Brits suffer from interrupted sleep, with latest studies suggesting a possible link between this and a high fat and sugar diet. So the guinea pigs’ bedrooms have been rigged with night vision cameras and, due to concerning results, Shaun is sent to a specialist sleep clinic in Cambridge and diagnosed with Sleep Apnoea.


Dr Ian E Smith from the Royal Papworth Sleep Clinic tells him he is stopping breathing for up to ten seconds at a time and this puts him at risk of a stroke.


Six-time Olympian Tessa Sanderson is mum to six-year-old twins and has strong opinions about the nation’s health. Tessa says: “Obesity is something I really, really fear. It is something that is going to escalate and we’ve just got to do something about it…It’s up to the parents and this is where I think a lot of obesity and things comes in for youngsters, parents have to start from home.”


As Tessa tucks into a breakfast of pizza she explains to her children the dangers of eating such high calorie foods all the time. After her week of pizzas, Tessa eats burgers for a week, but when she comes to the third week she wakes up feeling ill and Michael is worried.


Tessa explains that she has a terrible headache, something she hasn’t had for a long time. Checks reveal her blood pressure has gone dangerously high and she may have to stop the experiment and constantly monitor it to make sure it comes back down. 


The final volunteer is Made in Chelsea Star and health food lover Hugo Taylor. Hugo explains: “I think I want to do this, almost in a charitable way, but I want to bring attention to something I think is an issue in this country. I personally think it’s easier than ever to eat healthily in the UK. You’ve got dragon fruit, you’ve got avocado, you’ve got all these natural things… I am genuinely more nervous about this than, I think, anything I’ve ever done before.”


Sure enough, after just a couple of days on a diet of pizza, Hugo is already struggling: “It’s like a bad one-night stand, you enjoy it at the time but as soon as it’s done you just want to get out the door, shower…know what I mean?”


As he faces the rest of the week on a diet of pizza, before moving onto chicken and burgers, will Hugo be able to stomach it? 


With some of the celebrities forced to pull out of the experiment on medical grounds at the risk of doing irreversible damage, the overall impact on their bodies is far more devastating than anyone would have thought possible…and that is before they go cold turkey at the end of the 21 days with some astounding results.


Produced by Twofour for ITV.