Hoaxes & Rumors

Is the Gillian McKeith & Nigella Lawson Age Comparison Accurate?

Is the Gillian McKeith & Nigella Lawson Age Comparison Accurate?

A popular graphic circulating compares photos and lifestyle information of Gillian McKeith and Nigella Lawson. Are the photos and captions accurate?

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Gillian McKeith & Nigella Lawson Graphic

A popular graphic circulating around the web shows pictures of Gillian McKeith and Nigella Lawson side by side. The caption jokingly implies that Gillian’s “healthy” lifestyle has led to her rather unflattering look as depicted, as opposed to the lovely photo of Nigella, who supposedly leads a much less “healthy” lifestyle. Are the photos and the sentiment of the caption accurate?

Gillian McKeith & Nigella Lawson graphic

This graphic was first analyzed by a Briana Rognlin at Blisstree in November 2011. Our analysis followed in May 2012. Let’s look at the actual photo and caption first.

The caption reads:

This woman is 51. She is TV health guru Gillian McKeith, advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a vegetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements.

This woman is 51. She is Nigellea (sp) Lawson a TV cook, who eats meat, butter and desserts.


Analysis of Statements

First we’ll look at the accuracy of the statements regarding both women.

Both women were 51 until September of 2011. As of December of 2014, both women are now 55.

In the case of Gillian McKeith, her website does appear to promote many of the dietary/health practices depicted in the caption. Although it has since changed, the 2012 Wikipedia entry for Gillian McKeith made the following statement:

McKeith takes a holistic approach to health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, and tofu, and the avoidance of processed and high-calorie foods, sugar and fat, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, white flour, and additives. She recommends detox diets and colonic irrigation, argues that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and that she can diagnose ailments by examining people’s tongues and stools.

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According to this cursory inquiry, it appears that Gillian McKeith’s beliefs on food is generally correct as depicted in the graphic.

Nigella Lawson’s Wikipedia entry has also changed since 2012, but once included quotes about the nutritional value of her meals.  Following is one such quote from the her 2012 Wikipedia entry, “Lawson admitted the recipes were not “particularly healthy”, although she added, “I wouldn’t describe them as junk.” She openly admits that she isn’t a chef, nor is she a champion for “healthy eating.”

It seems obvious that the women have different approaches to food, generally correct in the caption above. This leads us to the photos themselves. Do these two photos accurately depict the two women?

Photo Comparisons

While one could easily argue that there is some validity to the photo and the caption, there are many factors involved. First, Nigella may simply possess more natural beauty stemming from a youthful-looking gene pool. Perhaps Nigella sought out plastic surgery to assist in her youthful appearance? Secondly, are outward appearances an accurate reflection of inner health (mental or physical)? Looks can be deceiving, and outward appearance may hide internal health problems such as clogged arteries, for example.

The creator of the graphic appeared to choose a bad photo of Gillian McKeith’s to make the comparison seem more uneven. McKeith looks much different in some of her other photographs found online (see example below).

Gillian McKeith

Gillian looks much different in her studio shots.

Bottom Line

While the caption of the graphic may be accurate, the photos appear to be cherry picked by the person who made the graphic to intentionally include a poor quality picture of Gillian McKeith. The implication that an “unhealthy” diet or lifestyle promotes physical attractiveness is obviously a flawed sentiment.

Updated December 27, 2014
Originally published in May 2012

  • Studio photos are notorious for making ugly people look beautiful.

  • Gazza

    It’s utter garbage. Truth is »» http://www.feelgoodagain.co.uk/pics/pics.htm

  • The picture they are using of her is from a TV show called I’m a celebrity get me out of here – she was in the middle of a jungle for days for christs sake.

  • martha RD

    Im a bit late in joining this conversation but as a Registered Dietitian I can’t help myself. I have chosen to become a pescitarian this year which means I only eat fish, dairy, beans, etc. I am 49 years old and I’m told that I look pretty good. I don’t take any medications and my blood work is perfect. I exercise, I drink alcohol in moderation, and I smoke a cigarette here and there. I do believe the average American diet is high in refined sugars and grains. And of course I do believe we all need to eat more vegetables and fruits. However, genetics has the most influence on our health and looks. You can be a marathon runner and still die young. You can be 50 and look like an 80 yr old or the opposite. My advice is and always will be a healthy diet, exercise, and maitaining your weight in a healthy range. Good luck every one!

  • veggiedude

    If you want you can pull the worse picture of Nigella Lawson (there are lots) and put it against this good shot of Gillian McKeith – who is not vegetarian, much less a vegan.

  • Gummo

    Yes, and then you too can be chronically anemic.

    • Sivapriya

      As a vegetarian, my blood has a high iron count. The doctor told me specifically to not take any supplements with iron (btw, I don’t take any supplements at all). There are plenty of veggies that are high in iron. It’s a myth that a plant based diet leads to anemia. With any diet, it’s pertinent to ensure it is balanced.

  • Jock Doubleday

    If you love wrinkled skin, drink wine or any other alcohol. It’ll get you there. This comparison graphic is so off the charts idiotic that i can’t even get the energy to respond. It’s like, why would you talk to an idiot.

  • James Jones

    That is not exactly true. What is true is that neither has a valid degree in nutrition. Graduating from Oxford with a degree in Medieval and Modern Languages does not make one an expert on nutrition. McKeith has degrees in linguistics and International Relation from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Pennsylvania (I believe Penn is an accredit university), respectively.

    Putting that aside, the original meme has a glamour shot and a shot of a women who appears to be out gardening. This IS how marketing works, sadly.

  • Rachel

    I think the photo of Gillian McKeith was taken when she was doing that celebrity jungle thing. Nigella just looks fab. This always was an unfair comparison using those pictures.

  • anonymous

    If “You are what you eat,” then Gillian McKeith must eat a lot of dried prunes.

  • Ellis

    Of course Gillian McKeith looks different in her studio shots. Anyone can appear more attractive with tons airbrushing. If you watch her on television, though, she does appear very old and worn. On the other hand, I’ve met Nigella a few times in person and she always looks very youthful and radiant, and it doesn’t seem to me like she’s had Botox. Anyone who says that a healthy and fit appearance has nothing to do with inner wellbeing is lying.

    I always thought the merits of veganism were overrated. As Nigella herself has said repeatedly, moderation in all foods is key to a smart diet. Should you eat a pint of gelato ice cream every day? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you need to go in the other extreme, putting yourself on bogus detox diets and living off of mushrooms and tofu.

    • jcool

      It’s like whatever happened to just enjoying some good, fresh, homecooked hearty meals. No stressing over calorie counting, dieting, ensuring the amount of veggies are sufficient, carbs, fats, etc – all that worrying and isolating our diets to certain foods only may possibly be detrimental to one’s own health. As much as diet may play a large role in our life, people are probably underestimating the power of just plain enjoying a good, delicious meal stress-free as a way to be healthy.

    • Gaz


      I think you fail to realize that Gillian McKeith has a congenital (caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth)condition called Scoliosis, severe cases of Scoliosis can lead to diminishing lung capacity, putting pressure on the heart and restricting physical activities.

      As for your cheap shot at Veganism, I am a Vegan and have been for nearly 11 years….unless you have been under a stone for the last 20 years, you might have realized there is a movement towards the Vegan lifestyle….preferably known as “plantbased diet” due to media induced stigma of the term “Vegan”.

      Oh and by the way I do not have a congenital affliction (so you can only really take another cheap shot at my diet) well go right ahead, because I run Ultra marathons 70 – 100 miles at a time, weigh 220lbs+, surf, hillrun and wakeboard for fun….so the next time you want to criticize i) someone with a congenital disorder ii) sleight a diet that is kind to the earth try and engage your (as I see it) peanut sized brain for just one second! You Herbivore! (pretending to be an Omnivore) 🙂 lol

  • JdL

    I just got a version by e-mail with the added tag at the end of Nigella’s bio: “She washes it all down with wine!”

    C’mon, all you grumps, this is meant to be light-hearted. No one I shared it with seriously thought that eating sugar and grease leads to beauty. If it has any serious meaning, I think it is, “We have what we have in spite of our bad habits.”

  • MEAT-loaf

    @Paul Fratianni
    “…It is my sincere wish that others will come to this truth and experience the other benefits of eating well other than aging gracefully on the outside.”

    You are a believer Paul. Gillian is not much helped by her spirituality, and besides that, what is better than gracefully age, your so called spirituality ? That is like “yes I know I am ugly, but hey I have my faith in Jesus !” well that helps a lot ! Beauty on the outside does say a lot about the inside. I think this is not only a matter of photoshopping. And I think Gillian is a stressed woman, that attacks the body more than all sugars in the world together.

  • Paul Fratianni

    When I first saw this comparison it did not take long to figure out this was a spurious correlation. As the author of this article points out there is a genetic difference between the two as well as the comparison photo that was chosen was on purposely unflattering. Not only this but stars often have photos taken of them that are professional and may be enhanced further by photoshop or the ilk. Also as been stated the inner health of the too may be vastly different. Gillian might live to be 110 while Nigella in all her beauty might keel over tomorrow.

    This is indeed the most ridiculous comparison which at best services to justify living mindlessly. Not only has outward beauty been hoisted above all other virtues but has completely relegated spirituality to the sidelines. As a vegetarian myself I’d have to say there have been few choices in my life that have had as great an impact on my spiritual life than what I mindfully chose to put into my body. It is my sincere wish that others will come to this truth and experience the other benefits of eating well other than aging gracefully on the outside.

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