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Diet : a Horizon guide.

  • Videos

About this work


Given that so many people are obese in the modern world, nutritionist Susan Jebb revisits many archival Horizon programmes on the subject of food production, food consumption and general health. We see how in the early 20th century, the lack of food led to diseases such as scurvy and rickets, then how technology during the industrial revolution led to the mass production of food. Archive Horizon footage revisits the arrival of factory farming with much footage of animals such as chickens, piglets and sole. The mass production of bread is shown, and scientists seen discussing plans to design further processed foods. Next, archival footage looks back at the post war era's enthusiastic use of pesticides in farming. However, by 1970 it became obvious that pesticides were causing devastation in animal and human health. Moreover, a generation of eating processed foods had led to a huge increase in obesity - Horizon footage captures these concerns from around 1969; a time at which the connection between heart disease and obesity also came to light. It was also shown that in Africa, children on a traditional diet rarely suffered from many of the Western diseases of the bowel leading to the introduction of adding bran to the diet. The psychological problems of eating were reported on in Horizon in the 1970s, although up until the 1980s it was still believed that obesity was caused by genes controlling metabolism. Jebb revisits a Horizon programme investigating metabolism which she hosted in the 1990s. Other 1990s Horizon shows researched diet and the production of medications which might induce weight loss such as Senocol and 'Fen-phen' (fenfluramine and phentermine) but a later documentary showed the lethal side effects of Fen-phen. A study on prisoners showed that some people literally couldn't become overweight no matter what they ate; equally a documentary following twin sisters who were brought up in opposing environments but ended up the same size and weight is highlighted. Later documentaries explored further the neurological reasons behind over-eating and obesity; the story of a young German man who has damage to his hypothalamus and a mutant obese mouse is featured - it led to the discovery of the lack of leptin in the fat cells of obese people. This brings research to the current date and the mission to find a pill which manipulates our desire to eat.


UK : BBC2, 2010.

Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL.


Broadcast on 7 January, 2010

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Alex Steinitz.

Copyright note




  • English

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