Michael Mosley: TV doctor who popularised 5:2 diet amid health and science work

TV doctor, author and columnist Michael Mosley helped popularise the 5:2 diet and often pushed his body to extreme lengths during his research into health and wellbeing.

His wife, Dr Clare Bailey Mosley, confirmed his death on Sunday after an extensive search operation found his body on the Greek Island of Symi.

The 67-year-old went missing on Wednesday during a walk while holidaying on Symi, one of the Dodecanese Islands.

Mosley first trained as a doctor before moving in to the world of broadcasting.

Through his work, he ingested tapeworms for six weeks for a 2014 documentary called Infested! Living With Parasites on BBC Four.

After studying PPE at Oxford, Mosley became an investment banker but later retrained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Michael Mosley missing
Emergency services on a boat at Agia Marina in Symi, Greece, where a body has been discovered during a search and rescue operation for TV doctor and columnist Michael Mosley (Yui Mok/PA)

However, he decided it was not the right profession for him after qualifying, and went on to join the BBC as a trainee assistant producer and eventually moved from behind the cameras to presenting.

In 1995, Mosley was named medical journalist of the year by the British Medical Association following his documentary about research that found a potential connection between a bacteria and gastric ulcers.

During 2011, he fronted the controversial documentary Inside The Human Body, which aired the dying moments of a man.

Michael Mosley
Doctor and broadcaster Michael Mosley fronted a Channel 4 series to help people who have piled on the pounds in lockdown (Avalon/Channel4/PA)

Mosley told the Radio Times at the time it was important not to “shy away from talking about death and, when it’s warranted, showing it” and added “there is a case to be made for filming a peaceful, natural death – a view shared by many who work closely with the dying”.

During his career with the BBC, he presented a host of science programmes and films including the series Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, which looked at healthcare in Britain.

He also carried out many unusual experiments on himself within these shows, including eating a black pudding made with his own blood and injecting snake venom to see how his blood clotted in the BBC documentary The Wonderful World Of Blood.

Mosley appeared as a guest on BBC’s The One Show and ITV’s This Morning many times and hosted other programmes including Medical Mavericks; Blood And Guts; Science Story; The Young Ones; Inside The Human Body; Eat, Fast Live And Longer; The Truth About Exercise; Pain, Pus & Poison and The Genius Of Invention.

In 2002, Mosley was nominated for an Emmy for his executive producer role on BBC science documentary The Human Face, presented by John Cleese and featuring celebrities including Elizabeth Hurley, Pierce Brosnan and Sir David Attenborough.

Other programmes he executively produced for the BBC include Pompeii – The Last Day; Krakatoa Revealed; Life Before Birth and Supervolcano.

He is credited with popularising the 5:2 diet, a form of intermittent fasting, through his book The Fast Diet which he co-authored with journalist Mimi Spencer.

Mosley later advocated for The Fast 800 diet, which follows a “moderately low-carb, Mediterranean-style diet”, writing a book and several cookbooks with his wife Clare Bailey Mosley, herself a GP and health columnist.

In 2015, he was given the Naomi Sargant Educational award by members of Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV), a consumer group which champions public service broadcasting.

Mosley also made programmes for Channel 4, including one which looked at why the UK is losing its battle with obesity after 30 years of government schemes trying to tackle the issue, and a weight loss show called Lose A Stone In 21 Days With Michael Mosley.

He said he was inspired by the discovery he had type 2 diabetes in 2012 and his own efforts to “get my blood sugars back to a healthy range by losing weight”.

The broadcaster also hosted Radio 4 podcast Just One Thing, where he revealed tips to help improve your health.

He recorded a special edition of the show at the Hay Festival on May 25 with Professor Tanya Byron.

Mosley had four children with Dr Bailey – Alexander, Jack, Daniel and Katherine.

The couple recently hosted a run of theatre show tours together and collaborated on the Fast 800 healthy eating cookery book range with food writer Kathryn Bruton.