You Are What You Eat

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This article is about the UK television programme. For the 1968 film, see You Are What You Eat (film).
You Are What You Eat
Starring Gillian McKeith
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 4
Producer(s) Anna Richardson
Running time 30mins (inc. adverts)
Original network Channel 4
Original release 2004 – 2007

You Are What You Eat is a dieting programme aired in various forms between 2004 and 2007 on British broadcasting company Channel 4, and presented by Gillian McKeith. The fourth series was called You Are What You Eat: Gillian Moves In.


The show often uses shock tactics to get the participants to lose weight. In each episode all food eaten in one week by the person(s) taking part is placed on a table to highlight problem areas of their diet. Another technique is the analysis of the participant's faeces by McKeith to detect certain problems and make them known to the person involved. This aspect of the show gained McKeith the nickname "The Awful Poo Lady".[1] Emphasising the possibility of the participant's death is sometimes used, with references to children they might not see growing up or a mock grave being prepared. Generally, editions would have these scenes in the first part followed by the participant's attempts to follow McKeith's diet and exercise regimes in the second. The fourth series was expanded from half to one hour programmes, with the contestants moving to McKeith's London house and being visited overnight at their homes for inspection.

Spin-off series[edit]

Localized versions of You Are What You Eat were produced by Viasat and aired in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Viasat was the first company in the world to adapt the format locally. MTV3 also produced a local version of the show in Finland. The show was a success and it was the frequently most viewed show in Finland when it was aired.

Participant weight loss[edit]

Weight loss by participants was often significant, with some examples as follows:

  • Series 1. Episode 1. Yvonne Grant: Lost 28 lbs. Average 3.5 lbs per week. 11.4% of body weight lost.
  • Series 1. Episode 5. Dean Mills: Lost 42 lbs. Average 5.3 lbs per week. 12.5% of body weight lost.
  • Series 1. Episode 8. Nicholas Hughes: Lost 56 lbs. Average 7.0 lbs per week. 20.5% of body weight lost.
  • Series 2. Episode 7. Joseph Heyburn: Lost 31.5 lbs. Average 3.9 lbs per week. 10.5% of body weight lost.
  • Series 2. Episode 13. Geraldine Mawson: Lost 42 lbs. Average 5.3 lbs per week. 16.2% of bodyweight lost.
  • Series 3. Episode 1. Irene Shingfield: Lost 38 lbs. Average 4.8 lbs per week. 15.5% of bodyweight lost.
  • Series 3. Episode 2. John Harrison: Lost 56 lbs. Average 7.0 lbs per week. 14.8% of bodyweight lost.

Based on the results of 34 participants in the series the subjects all recorded significant weight loss with an average loss of 4.3 lbs per week and an average 12.7% of body weight lost over the 8 weeks. This compares to recommendations by the British Dietetic Association that weight loss be in the region of 2 lb or 1 kg per week[2] or 5-10% over six months,[3] although participants were following the regimen under consultation with their doctors and generally starting from a high weight and a very poor diet.


In the first series of the show, McKeith was sometimes referred to as "Doctor", and she has continued to use the title in some media, although the later series referred to her as a "holistic nutritionist", using the title "Ms. Gillian McKeith" at some points. It emerged in December 2005 that Gillian McKeith has no accredited doctorate. McKeith received her PhD via a distance learning programme from the American Holistic College of Nutrition, Alabama, which later became the Clayton College of Natural Health before closing in 2011.[4] The Clayton College of Natural Health stated that it was "accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and the American Naturopathic Medical Accreditation Board".[5] However, this accreditation was never recognised by the U.S. Secretary of Education.[6]

McKeith is also a member of the American Association of Nutritional Consultants, a controversial organisation which seeks to enhance the reputation of Nutritional and Dietary Consultants by consolidating them into a professional organisation. It offers examination and certification, or association membership which does not require an examination but requires the payment of the $60 membership fee.[7]


You Are What You Eat was also the title of an American film from 1968. The phrase "You are what you eat" was first expressed by Ludwig Feuerbach in 1863 (German: Der Mensch ist, was er iszt.).[8]


  1. ^ "The Awful Poo Lady". Bad Science. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  3. ^ British Dietic Association. "Weight Wise - setting realistic goals". Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Gillian McKeith, round 2". Goldacre, Ben. Guardian News and Media Limited, 19 August 2004. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  5. ^ [1] Archived 7 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Clayton College of Natural Health: Be Wary of the School and Its Graduates". Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  7. ^ "Dr Gillian McKeith (PhD) continued". The Guardian. 2004-09-30. Retrieved 2007-02-10. 
  8. ^ Steven Shapin, Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority, second edition, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010, 568 pages, page 235 (ISBN 978-0801894213).

External links[edit]