While TV diet shows might be able to make us put down the bag of crisps in our hand, do they really make people more aware of the positives a healthy lifestyle can bring, or do they promote poor relationships between people and the food they consume?
‘Secret Eaters,’ ‘My Big Fat Diet Show,’ and ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ are some of the numerous diet shows that have swept our screens over the past few decades. However, these types of show tend to focus on the specifics, such as how much weight each participant weighs exactly and how much they should aim to lose.
there is an underlying tone in these types of shows that shames people
These shows state that they demonstrate how to drop a dress size in two weeks, show you recipes that will halve your calorie intake, and break down the individual calories of each piece of food. This forensic way of counting calories is on the one hand informative for some viewers – but damaging for others.
Many calorie counting apps, alongside diet shows, have been deemed hazardous. Dieting itself can become dangerous, with ‘yo-yo’ dieting having been shown to have negative impacts on health, increasing risk of heart disease and having long term effects on metabolic rate.
Other shows including ‘My 600-lb Life’ are interesting as they illustrate how poor diets have impacted many peoples’ lives, as many people require carers or parents to look after them, and therefore lose their own independence.
people who diet are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who do not
However, there is an underlying tone in these types of shows that shames people, and sometimes the moral message of the documentary doesn’t seem to come across, making the audience question if there even is one. These types of documentaries appear to focus more on the fascination of ‘600-lb’ people as opposed to promoting a healthy diet.
It is proven that people who diet are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who do not. Diet shows can be an informative way of informing the audience of the benefits of being aware of calorie intake, but they can be dangerous to those vulnerable to body-shaming messages.
If any of the content in this article has affected you personally, or if you would like more advice on eating disorders, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eating-disorders/.
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