News and events


‘Sugar v Fat’ debate – expert commentary by Dr Richard Mackenzie, University of Westminster

Biomedical Sciences 3 February 2014

Dr Richard Mackenzie, senior lecturer in cell metabolism and diabetes at the University of Westminster, comments on the experiment he conducted for last night’s BBC Horizon programme ‘Sugar v Fat’ on the effects that diet has on increasing the risk of diabetes:

“The sugar vs fat debate is one of the most talked about health topics. Eating the right foods and taking part in some form of physical activity are essential for healthy living and disease prevention. We are all very much spoilt for choice when it comes to food selection and there are numerous diets currently available – many of which are confusing and hard to follow. Even more troubling are the potential effects these diets can have on our health.

“I was asked by the BBC Horizon programme ‘Sugar v Fat’ to test the effects that a high fat and carbohydrate/ sugar diet would have on diabetic risk in twin doctors Chris and Alexander Van Tulleken. The question of whether fats and/ or carbohydrates are bad for us is not a new one. My research has led me to believe that either fat or carbohydrates in high amounts can be damaging to our health.

“What I found out when conducing the experiments on the twins not only surprised them but also shocked the BBC Horizon team. One twin who followed a high fat diet and ate foods such as meat and cheese for one month lost around 4kg (8.8 pounds) in weight. However, he also increased his risk of developing type 2 diabetes and lost a worrying amount of muscle mass. While the other twin, consuming a high carbohydrate diet, saw little change. This was not necessarily surprising from a medical point of view as high fat intake and fat accumulation are predictors of diabetes. Too much fat accumulation can interfere with the workings of vital organs such as the liver, and can make the body resistant to insulin -the hormone that regulates blood sugar– potentially leading to diabetes.”

View the clip here:

Discover more about Richard MacKenzie

For further information or if you would like to speak to Dr Richard Mackenzie, please contact:

Sarah Evans-Toyne, Lianne Robinson or Chiara Barreca
Broadgate Mainland
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +44(0) 20 7726 6111

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

For the media

For the media

Here we hope you find everything you will need to research, write and publish your story or blog post.