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Bride-to-be dies after losing 3 stone on her crash diet

This article is tragic – all about Samantha Clowe, only 34, who suffered heart failure 11 weeks after starting LighterLife. She lost 3 stone in that time and then her life. My heart goes out to her family and her fiancé Andrew Smith, who found her collapsed at their home in Leeds.

The coroner’s inquest said that it was “highly likely” she died from cardiac arrhythmia – where the heart beats abnormally – but he could not say if LighterLife played a part. I can understand why a coroner has to err on the side of caution, but the facts surely are these – a young, otherwise ‘fit and well’ woman started a c. 550 calorie a day diet and, 11 weeks later, was dead. Ask 100 reasonable people if they think she would be dead had she not started the diet and I bet the vast majority would say “unlikely”.

What shocked me most about this article was the GP view from Dr Scurr, who writes in Good Health every week. He declared himself “a big fan of commercial diets, even crash diets such as LighterLife”. He goes on to say “Indeed, often it’s only going on a low-calorie diet that finally convinces people what the problem is.”

Oh yes, I forgot, we need to be reminded that we are fat, greedy pigs and we need to eat less and/or do more. Aside from the fact that every obesity journal that has independently assessed the success of eating less (let alone doing more) has concluded that this doesn’t work. Eating less (let alone 550 calories a day) will make us want to eat more and do less – the exact opposite of what the goal was in the first place!

An additional tragedy is that Samantha could have lost stones before her wedding, safely and quickly, by eating food in the form that nature intends us to eat it in sufficient and nourishing quantities and by avoiding processed food. Do you know the primary ingredient in liquid meal replacements? – sugar!

15 thoughts on “Bride-to-be dies after losing 3 stone on her crash diet

  • If anyone goes to the daily mail article on the woman behind lighterlife, the best rated comment is by a woman singing the praises of the diet:
    “I did LighterLife a couple of years ago and it changed my life. I have picked up 2 stone since….”

    Picked up two stone?! thats not just a couple of pounds!! I did slim fast for two weeks and its just dismal. How people expect to be able to not eat everything in site after being on one of these stupid starvation/extreme willpower diets is beyond me.

    I’ve had a request from a TV company to see if anyone has bad experiences of Lighter Life and would be prepared to share them (on camera). Please can you let me know if you are able to help with this and I can put you in touch with the researcher on the programme. Please contact me at club @ and mark it LighterLife
    Thanks so much if you can help.
    Very best wishes – Zoe

  • Firstly; Jamie I completly disagree with you about the article. In my opinion there is not enough media coverage of the dangers of chosing the ‘Wrong Diet’. There are many young people out there who do not understand about diet and nutrition and develop eating disorders in one way or another, be it over eating or under eating, but they pretty much end up with the same result, dead. (harsh I know but honest…there bodies just can’t cope and give in)

    As someone who has tried almost every fad diet going I almost opted for the Lighter Life diet. Thankfully due to the costs I decided against it.

    So I think it is far from embarrassing to publicise a NATURAL eating plan that uses other diets to compare itself to. Don’t they all do that??? They all claim they are the best and you can succeed but only if you ….. eat crap and feel hungry 5 mins later…etc etc

    Zoe I am just about to embark on the journey of your natural eating programme (once I get the book as I currently just have the 1wk version out of Best magazine).
    I have every intention to give it my all and try it out.

    Its great to have someone who is honest about what we should/shouldn’t eat. Continue the good work.


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  • Jamie – do you not think the family already think this?! And I don’t understand why talking about someone dying 11 weeks in to a crash diet is “embarrassing” – strange word to use?!

    Please see the other entry above on deaths from bariatric surgery – up to 11%. 1 in 5 sufferers of anorexia will die from the illness (I was seriously close to being one of those statistics aged 16). This death was one that made the headlines, but so many others are happening every day and going unnoticed.

    For as long as dieticians and public health advisors are telling us to eat less, I will tell people to eat better. It is unforgivable that we are driving people down this low calorie/low energy/wanting to eat more vicious cycle and not offering people a healthy way out.
    Best wishes – Zoe

  • Imagine telling Samantha’s family that she should have taken an alternative diet?

    I’d remove this article Zoe, it’s quite embarrassing.

  • Thanks for bringing this to our attention Zoe. I’m also from Leeds as it happens. A truly sad story. You are spot on about meal replacement shakes too. I’m forever telling people that diet isn’t difficult. You just have to eat natural, non processed foods. There is nothing complex about it, one certainly doesn’t have to down fancy shakes. I didn’t feel that you were pimping your own diet here so I must disagree with some comments left by other above.

  • Hi Rosalind – I’m sorry if my blog caused you any offence but all I am promoting is healthy eating. My whole philosophy is that nature knows best and we should be eating real food. The wider tragedy is that the current ‘healthy eating’ advice (as Helena has so wonderfully set out on “Breakfast stubed out”) is the CAUSE of the obesity epidemic, never will it be the cure. This entire calorie obsessed, eat less/do more nonsense leads to the obesity that then leads to drastic measures, as our desperation to be slim knows no bounds.

    LighterLife is just one such desperation. There were 4,619 bariatric surgery operations in England last year – a 51% increase on the previous year.

    The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 2005 article found that, from a total of 16 155 patients who underwent bariatric procedures (mean age, 47.7 years; 75.8% women), the rates of 30-day, 90-day, and 1-year mortality were 2.0%, 2.8%, and 4.6%, respectively. Men had higher rates of early death than women (3.7% vs 1.5%, 4.8% vs 2.1%, and 7.5% vs 3.7% at 30 days, 90 days, and 1 year, respectively). Mortality rates were greater for those aged 65 years or older compared with younger patients (4.8% vs 1.7% at 30 days, 6.9% vs 2.3% at 90 days, and 11.1% vs 3.9% at 1 year).

    So, up to 11% of patients for ‘stomach’ surgery weight loss operations are dead within a year. And the NHS would rather fund such operations than rethink our public health weight loss advice.

    This is criminal, not just tragic.

  • I agree with Rosalind, it’s not the place to be promoting your own diet Zoe. I do however agree with your comments and that this poor girl would still be alive if she hadn’t tried this ludicrous diet!

  • The story is tragic.

    I question whether it’s an appropriate platform from which to promote your own diet though.

  • Hello Zoe, this is so tragic….such a waste…..

    One thing I really like about your diet…is that YOU CAN EAT!!!


    • Doesn’t feel like 6 years, :(

      The press had a field day when she died – so I didn’t want to comment anywhere at that time. The family and Andy were hounded by the press. (What a bunch of scumbags)

      Many of Sam’s freinds would agree with you, we feel that the Lighter Life diet contributed to her death.
      Many of us were concerned when she started it, but Sam was not a person to argue with, (She liked a debate – but someone with PHDs is hard to beat) she never seemed unhealthy either, so many of us just supported her as best we could – I still feel guilty today that maybe I should have said more.

      What none of the press stories have covered is that Sam was such very special lady.

      She always looked after her freinds.
      Her sense of humour was amazing, both enrapturing and very slightly evil. She could make anyone laugh without trying, her amazing wit could cut an idiot down often without them even knowing it.
      I still really miss her.

      • Hi Eddie
        I spotted this reply to Cheryl – I’m so terribly sorry that this was a personal loss for you.

        I’m really sorry for the press experience that you had too. There is benefit to others knowing about this – if one person can make a different decision – that’s another friend/family member who may be spared this.

        As someone who had an eating disorder as a teenager, I put myself at huge risk – too many people – young women especially – are doing the same and it’s tragic.

        Your memory of Sam is really warm and lovely.
        Best wishes – Zoe

        • Thanks Zoe – Thats very Kind.

          I hope you won’t mind me adding a small personal message to anyone considering going on a diet that may be reading this.

          If you are thinking about a diet, can I please suggest that whatever diet you choose – Please look for something that is sustainable, that you can continue with and be happy with long term.
          Please think very carfully before hitting a crash diet.

          Good luck and best wishes whatever you decide !


      • Sounds like you knew my sister well. Sweet that people still think about her.. Daniel

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