Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Gillian McKeith interviewed

The Herald, based in Glasgow and the biggest selling broadsheet in Scotland, has interviewed McKeith about the paucity of her qualifications. She comes out fighting. Or sounds defensive. You choose.

TV health guru admits buying doctorate by post - The Herald


At 4:23 PM, Anonymous said...

The link below goes to an expired page and I can't find any such article in the Archive Search on the Herald's website. Any ideas?

At 4:24 PM, Anonymous said...

Sorry, that should have been the link ABOVE.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous said...

Maybe McKeith's lawyers got it wiped. The UK libel laws are notoriously severe on what would be fair comment elsewhere.

At 8:41 AM, Robert said...

The libel laws in Scotland are much less onerous than they are in England and Wales - which is why plaintiffs always try to sue in England if they can. So, I doubt that is why it isn't there. Much more likely that the Herald only want to give a limited amount of content free of charge.

At 8:45 AM, Robert said...

Fortunately, it was cached on Google! Here's the article:

TV health guru admits buying doctorate by post

LUCY BANNERMAN August 04 2004

YOU are what you eat, but are you who you say you are? For Dr Gillian McKeith, it was her diploma, not her diet, that came under scrutiny yesterday after allegations emerged that the self-styled health guru gained her PhD by post from an online American college.
McKeith, who has made a television career out of curing junk addicts of their unhealthy eating habits, yesterday admitted that she earned her professional title from the Clayton College of Natural Health, based in Birmingham, Alabama. It provides degree and PhD qualifications even for those without any background in the field through the post or online for $9200 (5000).
However, the 45-year-old Scot, who describes herself as "the world's top nutritionist", was last night defiant in the defence of her academic credentials, claiming "I have nothing to be ashamed of. My qualifications are second to none. People out there would love to have my qualifications and expertise.
"My results speak for themselves. I really know my stuff. I have educated people, inspired them, and got them to a level of wellness."
In the reality TV show You Are What You Eat, she promotes a food combination diet rich in raw food and is known for examining participants' stool samples, obtained during their obligatory colonic irrigation, in stomach-churning detail.
She also claims to have treated Hollywood stars and Olympic athletes at her nutrition clinic in London, which is said to have more than 1000 people on its waiting list.
However, having forged a lucrative career from her best-selling health manuals and the hit Channel 4 series, the nutritionist has now been forced to explain the CV that has never appeared on any of her merchandise.
She claims to have graduated from Edinburgh University with a degree in languages and linguistics in the early 80s "I'm not very good with dates and ages" before studying international relations and business at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania.
But she said that personal illness steered her away from traditional education into the unpioneered territory of holistic nutrition.
McKeith said: "I've dedicated my life to educating myself. I was always very academic, and good at passing exams. I could have got into any university, but I discovered I had educated myself in a way that wasn't me. I had to find my own way.
"I had glandular fever, from which I never really recovered, and was led to believe I had a brain tumour. It got to the point I couldn't get out of bed."
The nutritionist, originally from Perth, said she learned of the postal courses through guests on a Philadelphia-based health radio show, where she worked.
"I could have gone anywhere I wanted but I chose Clayton. There was cutting-edge research being put forward by people who were pioneers at the time."
The distance learning took her five years, she said, during which time she claims to have known Linus Pauling, the only person to have ever won two separate Nobel prizes in peace and chemistry. Her course began in 1993; Pauling died in 1994.
"He was an incredible inspiration. I was working solidly, but studying for a doctorate is not all sitting in a classroom. I was stopping and starting.
"I am the first to say that this was not traditional. What I did was quite unique, but I am very proud of that choice.
"There are very well respected nutritionists, who are regular guests on Oprah Winfrey, who did the same course and are not being vilified."
The General Medical Council allows anyone with a legitimate PhD to call themselves a doctor.
Humble pie is not part of McKeith's own diet plan she denied that using the title to promote her theories on nutrition was unethical.
Rather than misleading the public, she said she was challenging orthodox medical opinions.
"I'm a pioneer. I am on a crusade to change the nation and fortunately, or unfortunately, that is going to put me in the limelight.
"But you can't have change without a bit of resistance. They can try to attach stigma to me, but it will bounce off, back on to them. I refute anyone who is trying to bring me down.
"I'm proof that if you're trying to forge a new way ahead, you're going to ruffle a few feathers."
A spokeswoman for Celador, the production company behind the television series, added: "Gillian has never for a moment claimed to be a medical doctor.
"It is an absurdity for anyone who has read the book or seen the series to think that.
"It is not like she is a GP. But you have to realise that when someone takes a holistic approach, there is always going to be an old school of traditionalists who are going to be sceptical and besmirch that. That's what's going on."
Channel 4 promised to stick with plans for a second series of the show, which has proved a ratings success so far.
Piatkus and Michael Jones, publishers of her two health plan books, yesterday declined to comment on whether the doctorate from Clayton College is in breach of contract.
However, John Garrow, emeritus professor of human nutrition at the University of London, said he doubted McKeith's theories and has challenged the television host to subject one of her treatments to a clinical test, offering to pay 1000 if her theories are proved right.
He said: "I hope that Dr McKeith's instincts, as a fellow scientist, will impel her to accept this challenge. I was led to believe that she is a real doctor, and I'm concerned to learn she isn't.
"How can viewers have any confidence that they are not being misled?"

At 2:38 AM, Anonymous said...

Here are details of John Garrow's challenge, made in 2000: a clinical test of her food supplement powder containing 'living enzymes'. Garrow proposes trying it in two groups, one with the enzymes zapped by heating. "If Dr McKeith is correct, it should be easy to deduce from the boosting of energy, etc. which patients received the active powder and which the inactivated one".


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