Anyone seen article in Sunday Mirror today?


Gold Member
Aparently a 25 year old woman has died whilst on LL. She was 33st and lost 10st in 6 months but died of heart arrhythmia although her distraught mother believes her sudden and dramatic weightloss is really to blame. Article says she was only on 3 Foodpacks a day, shouldn't she have been on 4?

Professor John Garrow who is a leading obesity expert says that VLCD are dangerous and people shouldn't do them but i've never felt better since i've been on it!

My heart goes out to her poor family, it's such a terrible loss. But i can't help thinking this will be great for those people who have already been trying to convince me my diet is bad for me :(
I'm doing CD not LL, but I apart from the counselling and the cost I think they are basically the same...the atricle doesnt scare me either, in fact it makes me more determined to succeed so that my weight cannot kill me

Just to add...Pebbles thread is called 'worried'
An open letter from Bar Hewlett, director of LighterLife:

You may have seen a newspaper article about the tragic death of a 25-year-old woman called Matilda Callaghan, from London. When she died she was a client of LighterLife and there was an inquest. At the hearing the coroner – a highly regarded expert – weighed up all the facts, heard from witnesses, and read evidence … and in his conclusions did not implicate LighterLife, or criticise it in any way. And yet this is not reflected in the newspaper article, so we have outlined the facts here, so you can decide for yourself.

Matilda was at great risk every day from being obese. She should have weighed 10 stone but she weighed more than 33 stone. She had been morbidly obese for half of her life, and carrying the weight of three women, with a BMI of 67. She was also a former smoker. When she died of cardiac arrhythmia, she was still over 20 stone, her BMI was nearly 50 – well over the level at which insurance companies will not offer life cover due to the high risk of death.

Here are the answers to some questions you may be asking.

LighterLife uses a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), are they safe – and who says so?

Absolutely they are, and every piece of research confirms this. See just some of these at the “health” section of the LighterLife website or go directly to:

The Government and regulatory bodies also say they are safe, because they specify what’s in them, to ensure they are nutritionally complete; LighterLife’s specific formulation meets all these standards.

…And who else?

Many people at the “sharp end” of the NHS - GPs and weight loss specialists, for example, who actually prescribe VLCDs to obese people.

And at LighterLife, we are privileged to have many healthcare professionals, including GPs and nurses, as clients. These are people who see the rigorous standards we set, and place their confidence in us.

But are VLCDs proven in practice?

Thoroughly. Modern VLCDs have been used by 20 million people over 20 years, to lose weight perfectly safely. Today they are being used very successfully in more than 30 countries by people of all ages, and over a range of timescales.

But the article raises a question mark over them

Let’s look at each allegation, then you decide.

‘Her weight loss was erratic; Matilda lost 10lbs in her first week, 4lbs in the second and 7lbs in the third week.’

Matilda started her diet weighing 33 stone. The first weight that is lost when you go on any diet is water and glycogen. A severely obese person could hold 3-4lbs of glycogen, and this would be bound up with about 4 times its weight of water, making a total of glycogen and water of about 20lbs; her weight loss pattern – losing 21 lbs in the first few weeks is not unusual. Once Matilda was burning fat, her weight loss was a steady 4-5lbs a week. (For those who have a BMI around 35, they are more likely to have a 1 – 2 lbs of glycogen, making the first couple of weeks weight loss around 10lb).

‘Controversial Diet firm’

LighterLife is not controversial. In line with Government recommendations and best practice, every LighterLife client has to have a medical with a GP before they can start the Programme, and every 28 days that they are on the Programme they go back for a check up. The programme is run by trained LighterLife Counsellors who all have National Edexcel qualifications in Running a Weight Loss Consultancy and counselling. LighterLife complies with all Government rules and regulations, Trading Standards and Advertising Standards. LighterLife is an organisational member of The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO). LighterLife publishes peer reviewed research in The International Journal of Obesity (IJO) and presents research at National and International Conferences.

‘The cause of her death was heart arrhythmia. The Coroner recorded an open verdict’

At Matilda’s inquest in October, the coroner Dr. Reid was not persuaded that there was sufficient evidence for an underlying cause of death. He did not implicate LighterLife in any way.

Surveys of sudden death in England suggest that 3,500 unexpected sudden deaths occur each year in the 16-64 age groups.

It has been known for a long time that there is a high risk in being obese. UK Government figures state that every 17 minutes someone in the UK dies from obesity related causes.

‘There is an excess mortality from unexplained fatal arrhythmias in the morbidly obese. It is estimated that mortality from sudden death in an obese population is 40 times higher than the rate of unexplained deaths in a non-obese population’ Drenick EJ 1988.

‘Indeed the cardiac abnormalities associated with obesity alone may be a sufficient etiological explanation for sudden deaths’ DeSilva RA 1985.

John Garrow says it’s dangerous

Those who specialise in the subject, and keep abreast with it, disagree.

For example, Professor Iain Broom, Research Professor in Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine at Robert Gordon’s University in Aberdeen said this weekend: “A VLCD used under medical supervision is a safe and effective way for the obese person to lose weight.”

“Modern day VLCDs … are currently being used throughout NHS settings and constitute a safe approach to managing obesity, providing there is a medical input at the start. A number of clinics around the country employ this approach with obese patients.”

“Current evidence shows that obesity shortens life; losing even 5-10 per cent of bodyweight improves life expectancy, cardiovascular risk, and prevents the development of type 2 diabetes.”

“Clinics in Aberdeen, Cambridge, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Luton & Dunstable amongst others all use VLCDs for weight loss, with obese patients in their NHS clinics.”

“A VLCD used under medial supervision is a safe and effective way for the obese person to lose weight. LighterLife is used under medical supervision.”

‘The effects of women on a 420 calorie formula diet, well supplemented with minerals electrolytes and vitamins found no change in QT intervals. It appears that a well-supplemented VLCD has a less adverse effect on electrical activity of the heart than starvation or severe weight loss after gastroplasty (stomach stapling)’ Doherty 1991, Weigle DS 1989

Doctor David Haslam the clinical director of the National Obesity Forum and a practising GP said “Those who are up to date with the science know that VLCDs are safe, I have my own patients on the LighterLife Programme and I am impressed with the progress they are making, along with the professionalism of the Company”

Doctor Cyril Weinkove says “I have run a Weight Management Clinic in an NHS hospital for the past 20 years using very low calorie diets.“ .

John Garrow retired some years ago and was on the committee which developed the guidelines for using a VLCD with which LighterLife and all other UK VLCDs comply .

If you have any further questions, ring us any time on 08700 664747 from Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm, and I and my colleagues would welcome the opportunity to speak to you.

Our thoughts are with Matilda’s family and friends who are having to cope with their loss as well as this unwanted intrusion.

Bar Hewlett
Professor John Garrow who is a leading obesity expert says that VLCD are dangerous and people shouldn't do them but i've never felt better since i've been on it!
In all fairness, John Garrow is an expert who has been wheeled out for the occasion in order to provide a soundbite. He is *not* connected with the inquest.

Interestingly, he contributed to the 1987 COMA report on the use of VLCDs in obesity, which if I remember correctly concludes that VLCDs are safe when used under supervision and after medical clearance.
In all fairness, John Garrow is an expert who has been wheeled out for the occasion in order to provide a soundbite. He is *not* connected with the inquest.

Interestingly, he contributed to the 1987 COMA report on the use of VLCDs in obesity, which if I remember correctly concludes that VLCDs are safe when used under supervision and after medical clearance.

That is interesting. Wonder what made him change his mind?
the newspapers dont care for facts, sensationalism is their only concern, the clue was in the fact she was 33st she was lucky to have lived as long as she did, its so sad that this country isnt doing more to help people lose weight, instead of making these diets availible on the nhs they would rather cut services to obese people than actually help them, easy targets
I read it and it freaked the hell out of me ... however rationally speaking as mentioned there were some clues i.e.e 33Stones in weight etc. Also there are plenty of people on here who have lost weight on VLCD.

Best Regards,
People die every day who aren't doing a diet, who are doing slimming world and who are doing slimfast.

Someone who was 33 stone for a long period would have been putting enormous stress on their body.

And the report said it was inconclusive so therefore it doesn't state any position over the actual diet.

Don't forget this is THE most researched diet in the world and not a single study has stated that the diet is dangerous in anyway, shape or form. The negativity comes from people who don't back up their "it's a dangerous diet" with any actual evidence.
Just to put a little bit of perspective on this and the soundbites and so on.

I have a business and am quoted as an expert in my field regularly, 9 times of out 10 I have learnt from bitter experience that you can give talk to a reporter for 10 minutes and they will chop it down and take a comment that you made out of the context of the sentence you said it in and it sounds terrible.

Likewise, I have had people that have worked very closely with me (but in unrelated fields) been completely misquoted when asked about my products and know that in fairness they wouldn't have said what was typed exactly but that the half dozen words would have been pulled out and when stood alone can look very negative.

We ALL know being overweight puts pressure on your heart, it sounds to me that the girls mum is distraught (obviously and quite rightly) and looking for an excuse for her daugters death. When my cousin died I did the same blaming everything from a pylon that was close to her house to her husband putting her under immense stress!

My heart goes out to those left behind, whatever the reason for her death, she was too young to die!
When i posted this morning i had just come of the phone with my mum who was very very upset about what she had read in the paper, it has taken me nearly all day to convince her that this diet is not life threatening, but being obese is.

Thank you Kazz and mini for posting that information, it helped my mum to understand, the paper has really made people scared, this morning i was one of them, i do not need to read the newspaper, because i know what is good for me and that is CD.
Firstly to remember Tillie's family who are grieving the loss .

:rolleyes: It does appear that maybe they are finding something/someone to blame? Only natural I guess no mater how sensible or based on FACT the argument against LL is.
:( I think a paper will make a story out of anything if they have people willing to splurge their opinion.

:) Also Bar Hewletts letter states all the organisations/research they are involved with.
:confused: Surely this wouldn't be the case if the diet was a death sentence?
:confused: I'm not convinced our doctors would give us clearance to start LL in the first place if they were a death sentence?

;) Onwards and downwards

Its such a tragic story, but as has been said already I would guess it was the weight that killed her not the diet. Its just so sad that she didn't get the help she needed earlier, even a few months could have made all the difference. I have cut and pasted the letter from LL and sent it to my friends and family. I don't want them worrying about me and trying to talk me off the plan.

such a tragedy

I'm very sorry to hear about this case, but here's a link to another Sunday Mirror story from this year:

So they have featured LL twice, once favourably and once not. Papers are only after a story, good or bad.

John Garrow has always been anti-vlcd, and was no doubt very disappointed when the COMA report confirmed that they were safe!
Metro (free London newspaper) have just featured the same story - Crash diet warning.... :( Which has worked out pretty badly as I was forced to tell my Mum what I'm doing just now in the light of all this negative publicity! :rolleyes:

Mind you she didn't seem that fussed. Turns out my aunt is on something that sounds, to me, like CD!
People die every day who aren't doing a diet, who are doing slimming world and who are doing slimfast.

Exactly. Sadly thats a fact of life.

"Cutting down on calories for a few days does no harm, but no one should be doing this for six months"

This does have some merit to it. 6 months is along time to basically stay on a VLCD...particularly with so much weight to lose...

I would have felt better had she have had something small to eat - like CD says...though i know its LL...

Surely LL has the same type of 'add a meal'

I can be corrected on this one.

God help her and rest her soul though

but then while VLCD gets a hammering where does this leave people who have their stomach stapled...

After all they are mostly of equal BMI...and they have extremely small food intake...