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BBC Future

60 Second Idea

‘Don’t eat one day a week’

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week geneticist Frances Ashcroft says that everyone should give up eating for a day a week.

“My bright idea is for those in the developed world to fast one day a week. Three hundred and thirty six million people worldwide now have type 2 diabetes.

This is not good because it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation.It causes one death every seven seconds. In the UK alone we spend a staggering million pounds an hour in treating the disease – almost 10% of the healthcare budget.

The recent explosion in type 2 diabetes is driven by the obesity epidemic and the best way to solve the problem is for everyone to maintain a sensible weight.

We all know what we have to do – eat less and exercise more. But most of us don’t find it easy to calculate calories or eat the right sized portion of food.

Fasting is cheap, simple and has a long tradition in many cultures.

Obviously it is important to check with your doctor before doing so and to take plenty of fluids, but fasting for one day each week may make us healthier, happier and longer lived.”

You can listen to Frances discuss her idea with energy expert Dan Yergin and sound artist Miha Ciglar ,in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more 60-second ideas.

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