Are Weight Loss Reality TV Programmes Doing More Harm Than Good?

March 1st, 2011
Are Weight Loss Reality TV Programmes Doing More Harm Than Good?

Over the last few years there has been nothing short of an explosion in reality TV programmes dealing with weight loss and diet. However is this really the best way to deal with such a massive problem of obesity?

One of the TV programmes which has been criticised is ‘The Biggest Loser’ which has appeared on both British and American TV. Some Obesity experts though believe this and other similar shows are really setting people up for disappointment.

The argument apparently surrounds the reason behind why these shows are being televised. Obesity professionals believe that such shows emphasise body image rather than the need to reduce weight for health reasons. They argue that focusing on body image is more likely to manufacture psychological problems further down the line such as eating disorders.

Further, with the emphasis is on reducing weight very quickly as well as the actual amount TV dieters could be putting themselves at risk of medical problems. While being overweight itself can create huge medical problems, uncontrolled weight loss influenced by TV shows could equally be major problem.

Evidence of this is been backed up by some contestants on US version of ‘The Biggest Loser’ who said they had decided to dehydrate themselves in order to lose as much weight as possible, as quickly as possible. Two people were in fact hospitalised after collapsing during one of the races.

There are positives to these shows however. Experts do agree that they can inspire millions of people to do something about their weight. The fact that they also show overweight people having to exercise as part of a diet does encourage others to exercise themselves.

However Lynn Gref, chief executive of the National (American) Eating Disorders Association disagrees. She told reporters: “I do not think these shows are a good idea in any way.

“When people are as large as the contestants on these reality shows, they are not well.”

Ms Gref added: “I have a problem with treating their condition like some kind of game: How much weight can you lose? And how quickly?”

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