In the United Kingdom, weight issues are as prevalent as in the United States, and at least 1.1 million people in the U.K. suffer from eating disorders, according to the "Disordered Eating" website. Britain has combined these two obsessions into a documentary series in which two polar-opposite eaters are asked to swap diets. One severely overweight person is paired with one dangerously underweight person in a supervised eating clinic and each one watches the other eat his normal daily diet. The purpose is to help participants change the way they view food. The show is called, "Supersize Vs. Superskinny."
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Dr. Christian Jessen
The doctor who supervises patients on the show "Supersize Vs. Superskinny" is Dr. Christian Jessen. He hosts many health-oriented television shows in the United Kingdom including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award winner, "Embarrassing Bodies." Dr. Jessen graduated from University College in London with studies in general medicine, infectious disease, travel disease, and sexual health. He participates in many public health campaigns beyond his television shows and says his main goal is to bridge the gap between medicine and the general public.
On the show, patients are weighed in and introduced to each other while wearing only their undergarments. The participants keep a food journal in the weeks preceding the show and then both eat exactly what the other party wrote in her journal. During their time at the eating clinic, the patients are encouraged to look back over their personal histories to gain understanding about why they are dealing inappropriately with food. One participant was given a photo album to browse through and realized that she began putting on weight around the time her grandfather became ill and died. Until that point she had not realized there was an emotional connection to her overeating.
According to doctors Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD, both authors of multiple best-selling books on health and weight loss, the show's approach has many elements that they strongly recommend for gaining control over eating disorders. Their first suggestion is to team up with someone, which is also the first step the show takes. The doctors' next step is to use a meal planner. This tool is given to patients after their five-day food swap on the show. Third, the doctors advise you gain understanding into why you eat -- or don't eat -- which is also included in the television program. Lastly, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen want patients to stop feeling guilty.
The Main Points
The show is including all eating disorders and exposing many of the dangers involved with being too thin. Diet tips are geared not only toward people who want to lose weight, but to anyone grappling with an awkward relationship with food. According to Channel 4, the network that hosts the program, the show's main suggestions are to divide the time in your life evenly among four main things: work, rest, play, and food. The show focuses on making small, gradual changes that you can shape into healthful habits. Each participant leaves the show with his own personalized eating plan and is encouraged to enter counseling to change the psychological components of his eating disorders.
Reality Shows in Real Life?
According to a 2009 "New York Times" article "On Reality Show to Lose Weight, Health Can Be Lost in Frenzy," many of the contestants from popular weight loss reality series have gained back most of the weight that they lost. Many contestants later admitted to using dehydration and starvation methods to lose more weight than their fellow contestants so they could win. Long-term results of "Supersize Vs. Superskinny" are yet to be assessed.
Physicians supervise reality shows. This is one piece of advice you should definitely take from these shows. Always speak with your doctor before making any changes to your current diet.