Graduate stars in television diet experiment

“I realised it could help me to tackle my weight problems although it was made clear that success was not guaranteed, getting a degree spurred me on to lose some weight."

Alison Vaughan, BA(Hons) English and Creative Writing

January 13, 2015: A Staffordshire University graduate has been benefiting from the science of dieting after participating in a social experiment which is being screened on BBC Two this week.

Alison Vaughan, a BA(Hons) English and Creative Writing graduate, now working in the University’s Law reception was one of 75 dieters taking part in ‘What's The Right Diet For You?’ A Horizon Special.

The latest weight-loss theory says that people should follow a diet that is tailored to their individual needs.

For the first time obesity experts and BBC Science have put this theory to the test nationally.

Over three months, Alison, 53 was put through a series of tests and monitored at home. The study was overseen by scientists from Oxford and Cambridge and their research teams.

Alison, who graduated in 2014 with first-class honours was also filmed for the programme during her graduation ceremony and believes confidence of gaining a degree gave her the motivation to tackle her weight.

Alison, 53 said: “I was actually looking for a free wedding programme to enter for a friend and saw the advert for this. I realised it could help me to tackle my weight problems although it was made clear that success was not guaranteed, getting a degree spurred me on to lose some weight.

“We were selected at a boot camp through certain criteria and then they needed to identify what type of eaters we were in order for us to plan a successful diet.

“We were categorised into three different types of eaters; feasters, cravers and emotional eaters, and I fell into the latter.”

Alison lost over 11kg (1st 11lb) during the 12 weeks and has now lost over 19kg (3st 1lb) in total.

The dieters were then involved in a series of experiments including abseiling and a driving test which was aimed to put them under stress to see how they ate afterwards.

"My relationship with food has been quite negative in the past. I now know that is a result of being deliberately deprived of food when I was very small.

“It has taken a long time to realise the effect this has had on the way I eat. The study made me realise food was controlling me, now it is the other way round,” she explained.

"Getting support was an essential part of that, weekly meetings were a big help for me. I feel relieved at being classified as an emotional eater because it gives you a footing from which to continue, unless you can see what the issue is you've really got no hope of changing,” she added.

  • What's The Right Diet For You? A Horizon Special is broadcast on BBC Two on 12, 13 and 14 January at 21.00.

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