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How Long Will You Live?
How Long Will You Live? Revisited RTÉ One, Tuesday 8.30pm

Programme 4

Diane Leen

Click on a link below to watch the show:
- Part One
- Part Two

24 year old Diane Leen from Killarney is living fast - and dying young. How long will she live?

After a hard week at work civil servant Diane Leen loves a night out on the town. On an average weekend night she drinks at least 16 vodkas and smokes up to 40 cigarettes. It's a lifestyle that can lead to major illnesses and premature death.

Diane's not unique, nights like this are happening every weekend throughout Ireland. Irish women drink more than women in any other western European country. And more than a quarter of women under 30 binge drink at least once a week.

But it's not just the nights out that are wrecking her health. Her heavy weekends are followed by a week of no exercise, big fry-ups and up to five takeaway meals.

We have 8 weeks to convince Diane that a life of living for the weekends will lead to no life at all.


We visited Barrington's Hospital in Limerick to find out what affect Diane's lifestyle is having on her body. Her blood test highlighted abnormal result for her liver enzymes:
AST 56
Healthy Level 10-13
ALT 70
Healthy Level 14-54
Gamma GT 54
Healthy level 7 -50

The most likely cause for this abnormal finding is alcohol, and the fact that this is showing up a full five days after the weekend is a shock. If this were to carry on it would eventually lead to liver disease.

Vo2 max 26.6
(Healthy level is above 40)

BMI 30 - Obese
(Healthy level 21-15)

If we can get Diane exercising she will improve her fitness and start to bring down her weight. It might be harsh, but for her height a weight of 85kg, or 13 stone 5lbs, puts her at greater risk of heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

69 years is 11 years below the national average for women.


  • Cut down drinking
  • No more takeaways
  • 3 healthy meals a day
  • Get out of breath for 30 minutes, 5 times a week
  • Give up cigarettes

If she wants to live longer she needs to cut down on her drinking and junk food and begin to eat 3 healthy meals a day. Over the next 8 weeks we also want her to increase her activity and to try to completely give up cigarettes.


To ease Diane into the next 8 weeks we sent her to meet clinical nutritionist Anne Marie Brennan*. Diane is shocked to find that her weekend alcohol intake is the equivalent of 70 sugar lumps!


Diane has reached the hardest point of her new life - her first sober weekend. On the plus side it's also her first Saturday without a hangover in years. The journey to a longer life has begun well but there are going to be plenty temptations along the way.


It's time to help Diane find something to do other than party - and it doesn't get much more different than rowing lessons! When you're trying to increase exercise it's vital to find something you enjoy. Not only will exercise cut Diane's risk of cancers, heart problems and diabetes, but endorphins released by the body will replace the vodka and nicotine buzz that Diane grew to love. Of course if she hates rowing, then it's back to the drawing board.


Diane's having a dinner party - a completely healthy dinner party. It's been a successful night and for the last 28 days she's managed to stay sober and cigarette free


Today is Diane's birthday. Last year she was on a four day bender in Amsterdam, this year she been enjoying the rowing so much she's competing in her first ever regatta.


We're nearly at the end of the 8 weeks and our former party animal is competing in the Cork mini-marathon. Diane is a new woman. Rowing regattas have replaced nights on the tiles, takeaways have been banished, and walks have turned into runs. Her performance today will be the culmination of nearly 2 months of healthy living


8 weeks ago a medical found that Diane Leen's bad diet and party lifestyle were leading to obesity, early signs of liver damage and a life expectancy of just 69 years A few days ago the tests were repeated and after nearly two months of safe drinking, good diet, exercise and non-smoking today is the day Diane finds out if she's added any years to her life.


Consultant Physician & Endocrinologist
Barrington's Hospital and Medical Centre
George's Quay
061 490 516

National Coaching and Training Centre
University of Limerick
Co Limerick
Tel +353 - 61 - 202895
Fax +353 - 61 - 202868
E-mail - national coaching and training centre

Cork University Hospital

Workmens Rowing Club
Reen Pier
(beside Ross Castle on the lower lake in Killarney)
Contact: 00 353 64 32 167

Gap of Dunloe
Killarney National Park

Results for Diane Leen:

AST, ALT and Gamma GT returned to normal levels
VO2 Max 32.3 (previously 26.6)
Weight loss 4kg or 8.8 lbs
BMI 28 (previously 30)
Life Expectancy was 69, now 89

Diane Leen