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Observations BMJ Confidential

Mike Lean: Many mountains to climb

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 19 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3881
Duncan Smith


Mike Lean is professor of human nutrition at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and co-leader of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, which showed that substantial weight loss leads to remission of type 2 diabetes. He advises that eating less by using whatever diet you can sustain is a better way to lose weight than worrying about dietary composition, and exercise may be good for you but it’s unlikely to lose you much weight. He trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, spent four years at the Dunn nutrition laboratories in Cambridge, and has a Cambridge MA in the history and philosophy of science. A keen mountaineer and Scottish music aficionado, he takes his violin everywhere, even to scientific meetings. He has been a non-executive director of the Health Education Board for Scotland and chair of the advisory committee on research for the Food Standards Agency in London.

What was your earliest ambition?

Medicine emerged after a school friend died of osteosarcoma, and the first girl to seem attractive to me died of type 1 diabetes at age 10. But long before that I’d read Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, and I dreamed of sitting astride a cannon outside a temple, living the life of the “Little Friend of All the World.”

What was your best career move?

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