AUSTRALIA’S HEALTH REVOLUTION WITH DR MICHAEL MOSLEY
New series, Wednesday 19.30, SBS
For Michael Mosley, it’s personal. After his father died prematurely thanks to type 2 diabetes, Mosley was determined that it would not happen to him and — continued his long-established habit of experimenting on his own body — managed to reverse his own diabetes by only to use diet.
He is also aware that type 2 diabetes is a massive global problem, and in Australia he is responsible for more than 15,000 deaths each year. So when SBS asked if there was anything he would like to make a documentary about here, the answer was obvious. “I said look, I’m really eager to get the message out there that type 2 diabetes is reversible,” Mosley says. “And they said well, let’s do it.”
The production company thought it might be nice to incorporate some local expertise. Enter Ray Kelly, Gomeroi man and exercise physiologist who has spent a decade working with communities to reverse type 2 diabetes – and happened to be halfway through a PhD. about the subject. The original idea was that he would appear as an “expert”. “But after a couple of Zoom meetings about what I do, the results I’ve gotten, the research I’m involved in, they ended up asking me if I would be interested in co-hosting,” Kelly says. “It’s the old story of the right place, the right time – but ready to go. And it meant so much to me that we told the stories right. ”
He and Mosley did not help to select the participants, but they had input. They did not want people who were too sick, “but I asked the production company to get some complex cases in there,” Kelly says. “It was too good an opportunity to show what can be done.”
And Mosley was delighted with the casting. “Even though we are very different people – I think they must have thrown him [Kelly] at least in part because we are very different people, the smart Englishman and the big tattooed Aussie guy – we developed something of a bromance as time went on, ”he says.
And as a native, Kelly was able to give Mosley access to communities he would not normally be exposed to. “Going to parts of Australia I hadn’t visited before and meeting people I hadn’t encountered before was absolutely fascinating and I met such lovely people,” says Mosley. “But it was very much outside of my normal experiences.”
For reasons that are not entirely clear, type 2 diabetes seems to affect non-Caucasian populations particularly severely. But as these two gentlemen point out, the scale of the problem in indigenous and lower socioeconomic populations is much less mysterious and has an awful lot to do with access to affordable, healthy food. Kelly worked with the communities around Mt Druitt and found that fresh fruits and vegetables in the nearest mall were as expensive as the fresh produce in Bourke. “And there is absolutely no reason for that,” he says. “But that’s what we find: food deserts. But poor quality food is so available and so cheap. ”