Q&A with Simon Gault
Tell us about Prime’s new documentary series, Why Are We Fat?
The journey we go on with the series is to meet experts in all facets of health. That includes examining microbiome – our gut bacteria – which is a new discovery of how literally our gut bacteria is talking to our brain. Sleep is massively important in the triggers of what we eat, how much we eat, and the little voice in your head that says “I’m full”. Then we examine what we eat. It doesn’t have to be twigs and berries, but diets don’t work. They work temporarily, but we just revert back to eating what we normally do. Then there’s exercise. Different exercises suit different people depending on your genetics. Genetics have a massive part to play on whether or not you’re “fat”. A lot of skinny people look at people who are overweight and go, ‘why don’t they just stop putting food in their mouth?’. But there are all these things that they are genetically exposed to, for example, if I eat potatoes I’m 800 percent more likely to gain weight than somebody that doesn’t have that gene. I eat potatoes and I can feel it the next day. So if I eat a potato I’m going to make sure it’s a bloody good one! The documentary completely examines all those facets of our lives and our body which culminate in why we’re fat.
What made you want to take part in a series like this?
It was an opportunity for me to help everyday people who struggle with weight, and there are a lot of people out there who struggle with weight. We’re the third fattest developed nation in the world, we’ve got a lot of obese kids, and this is an opportunity to help. Because I had type 2 diabetes, which everyone keeps a bit of a secret – I did as well, I didn’t tell anybody – I thought if I actually say ‘I’ve got type 2 diabetes’ and people can relate to me and what I’m going through, it will interest them.
Why did you feel compelled to share your personal health story?
Again, to help people. If you tell people about what you’re going through, people can identify with it and they can see that you can make changes.
What did you learn while filming Why Are We Fat? that shocked you the most?
The effects of lack of sleep. Most people at some stage wake up in the middle of the night and think ‘how long I have I got to go?’ and they look at their phone or their alarm clock and start doing that mental calculation. The moment you do that you stop producing melatonin while you sleep. Basically you wake up and your gas tank is half full, and you really need a full gas tank to get through the day. How important sleep is was really shocking. Every half hour you don’t have sleep is the equivalent of having a shot of vodka in your decision making.
What is your advice to New Zealanders struggling with their health? Where do you start?
Start cooking and eliminate highly refined and processed foods, especially sugar, out of your diets.
Why should New Zealanders watch the series?
Because we have an epidemic of diabetes in New Zealand, we’re the third fattest developed nation in the world, and our kids are almost the fattest kids in the world. That says a lot about us as parents. We need to start taking a hard look, if for nothing else but the future of our kids.