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Reality Shows About Obese: Empowering or Exploitative?
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Andie_WebMD_Staff posted:
In our Diet Expert, Pamela Peeke's latest blog article she looks at all the reality shows popping up featuring (or exploiting?) obese individuals. She asks,



"With the advent of so many obesity-related shows (e.g. Ruby, Biggest Loser, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, More to Love, Dance Your Ass Off, Making the Curve, One Big Happy Family, etc.), many wonder if it's right to turn being overweight or obese into entertainment. Are these shows empowering or exploiting people?"


What is the point of the parade of fat rolls — help or humiliation? See what Pam Peeke has to say and leave us your thoughts here.
Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours. - Irish Proverb
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jis4judy responded:
or me when I watch these shows and see all the health issues raised that the extra weight is causeing . and see improvements
when they take off some weight , it bolsters my resolve to stay on plan ... All these Obese people are not being exploited because they willingly partisipate ... they weren;t taken off the street and forced to work out and change their lives they applied for the chance ..made the decision themselves , and I find them motivating ,
Just my opinion
hugs Judy:)
Sw 247 Cw 153ish remember the gold isn;t in the prize it is in the journey! life may not be the party we expected but while we are here we may as well dance!
 
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jhilton1 replied to jis4judy's response:
I agree with Judy. Its awesome that these people were willing to make the change to save their lives. I like the show more now that they changed the format. It used to seem more like a game "if they go home and start gaining weight they will be forced to come back" But now they spend 6 straight months there and work on getting healthy.
It has helped me too. Im nowhere near obese, but When I watch the show i immediatly think "ok im ready to hit the gym" and we eat better watching the show. We had a bowl of ice cream the last time it came on and my husband pushed it away and said "I just cant eat this while watching this show"
 
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Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP replied to jis4judy's response:
Hey to you Judy and the other folks who have responded. Thanks so much for your thoughtful replies. What many of us who are tracking reactions to these shows have found is that there is a whole range of responses to watching people's journeys on camera. So much of it is based on where that person is in their own journey to achieve a healthy mind and body and live a healthier lifestyle. People look through the lens of their own life experiences (good, bad and otherwise) with the weight management experience. I feel that so long as the participants are provided tools and guidance to improve their condition, I say "great" and hope this helps inspire and motivate viewers to beging or continue their own unique journeys. Finally, I really appreciate it when any of these shows provides a follow up (weeks, months even years later) so that we can learn about what the maintenance challenges are and to celebrate those who have been able to demonstrate their new habits are sustainable.
Dr. Peeke
 
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fredgilden replied to Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP's response:
the problem with these shows, is that these people are taking off that weight in such a short hurried time, what happens to them when the camera is off and they go home? are they able to maintain the intensity of the training regiment that these tv programs expose them to, and let's face it, fat people have always been looked at as buffoons and freaks by regular people, i personally have been on a diet odyssey since 1986 when i joined weight watchers and i'm still on it right now, i'm still a food addict 25 years later and i'm a resident at a rehabilitation center, i've learned over the years that all of these quick fix diets and workouts, and even these bariatric surgeries will not work if you do not change what's in your mind, each time you go on a diet and come off it your body tells you unconsciously that you have been in a famine and need to eat more for the next time you are on a famine, this is how the diet rebounding began for me, if i had to do it all over again knowing what i now know when i had origionally gone from 200 to 235 i would not have gone to weight watchers, instead i would have worked out to take off the weight, i had over eaten back then cause i had a bigger salary then i ever had, but that balance out when i went to my next job, i should have just worked out by riding on my bike and that's it! no dieting period!
 
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brunosbud replied to fredgilden's response:
Spot on, Fred. Spot on.




 
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rachelsf1979 responded:
I have struggled with my weight for most of my life, and spent many years being morbidly obese. I have lost a lot of weight, and and still working on it. So I know a lot about what it is like to be a very overweight person in our culture, and the prejudice we encounter, and even discrimination (it seems to take me longer to find jobs than my thinner friends, even when I am just as well-educated and accomplished as they are).

I think that these shows actually humanize overweight people - they will often tell their stories; and about the physical and psychological hardships they went through because of their weight, as well as the difficulties in their earlier lives which contributed to their obesity, because of emotional eating and other such factors. Much like an alcoholic who drinks after a difficult childhood. If, for the average person, seeing these people and hearing their stories helps to instill compassion for them and reduce stereotypes about them, then I think this helps people with serious weight problems as a whole.

However, I also agree with Fred that these people may need long-term help and support in maintaining their weight loss, and maybe also psychological help to deal with their emotional problems that caused them to become overweight. I also agree that such fast weight loss is unhealthy, and will make it much harder to maintain, therefore making it not a good example for weight loss.
 
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Guy_HIbbins replied to Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP's response:
In the Australian version of Biggest Loser they had the previous 4 winners come back and act as guest coaches for one episode.
It was interesting to see that they had all not only maintained their weight loss but had adopted more positive attitudes to weight management.
One past winner who had lost and maintained his loss of 87.5kg (193 lbs) had changed his outlook completely.

What this showed me was that it is not just about diet and exercise as so many articles (in my opinion) rather naively assert. It is about attitude and beliefs and morale and for that matter stress management.

We hear endless debate about which diet works best, but realistically no diet will work without other the factors being in place. We saw this in the A to Z Trial. The diets mostly did not work because the subjects did not adhere to the diets.

This is hardly news of course, but is it not about time that we heard more about the other aspects of weight management?
 
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Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to Guy_HIbbins's response:
Thanks Guy! Are you in Austrailia? Can I come visit

I think we can all agree - if it was just about food and exercise, weight loss would be much less complex. It seems that a comprehensive program has the best chances of lasting success.

I'll start some discussions this week about other factors...Haylen


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