A British geneticist, Professor Tim Specter, decided, for reasons that are not entirely clear, to determine what effect a diet of junk food would have on the gut fauna. In a methodology resembling John Selwyn Gummer’s at the height of the BSE scare, who chose to force-feed his hapless children burgers, he elected to use his child as the guinea pig. His son Tom was chosen to be the sacrificial lamb, as it were.

Tom was fed for ten days on meals from McDonald’s. He could have a Big Mac or chicken nuggets, plus fries and coke. The reporting is a bit shoddy here. I suspect he was allowed Coca Cola, not a big snootful of Colombia’s finest export. For extra vitamins he was allowed beer and crisps (!) in the evening. Tom, not too surprisingly, felt OK for a couple of days, then began to feel a bit peaky. Just to make him feel even worse, he was required to supply his dad with stool samples, which were sent off to Cornell University for analysis. Why there is anybody’s guess. Surely there must be labs in the UK with the right facilities?

Any road up, the results were not good, though you might have expected that. ‘Tom’s gut microbes had been devastated. 1400 different species, accounting for 40% of his gut diversity, had been lost.’ This has all the making of a real shock horror health scandal, doesn’t it? Well hold you hard, me hearties. Hold you hard.

It’s not a very big sample is it? There’s no pun intended there. One person. No controls. And precious few people eat solely from Maccie D’s, so the study is a bit flawed to say the least. It surely does not justify Prof. Specter’s contention that junk food ‘will kill the organisms that are crucial to digestion.’ I doubt very much that the occasional burger will do too much lasting damage to your bowels. There’s no follow up either. What happened when poor put-upon Tom returned to his normal diet?

There’s also the aspect that like-for-like sales of McDonald’s have been in steady decline since 2013. The gloss is wearing off the golden arches, so this is a problem that doesn’t exist, and is unlikely to exist.

By curious coincidence, I received a letter this week from the NHS. They are very kindly intending to send me a bowl cancer test kit. I assume this is a follow up to the scaremongering they did a couple of years ago.


Anyway, I’m not doing this. They can take their test kit and shove it, because that exactly what I’m not going to do.