Monday, May 30, 2011

Are reality weight-loss shows helping obesity in America?

Diana Bierman

Medical experts divulge why or why not weight-loss shows help in the struggle against obesity

Most of the time you channel search, there is a good chance that a reality show pertaining to weight loss is on the air. Whether it’s MTV’s I Used to Be Fat or A&E’s Heavy, they are becoming more and more popular.

But are they really helping America understand the importance of good nutrition and actually losing weight?

The Canadian Press reports that America's obesity rate is currently the highest of any industrialized nation, and some agree that these shows aren’t necessarily making that statistic decrease.

Bariatric surgeon Ted Khalili was quoted as saying, “Obesity is an epidemic and these shows are trivializing it.”

That's not to say that these shows glamorize overweight people, but he believes they typically portray unrealistic diets for television purposes. Although he agrees there are some things obese people can learn, he believes most if it is too extreme.

Nevertheless, where there’s a will there’s a way. J.D. Roth, executive producer of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and The Biggest Loser, thinks that these types of shows make people more aware of the mistakes they are making.

“The first step to changing some systemic problem in society is awareness and I think (weight) awareness is at an all-time high," he declared.

And then there are those who are in the middle. Terry Shaack, another medical expert, believes we will eventually see change – perhaps in eight to 10 years, just not right away.

His reasons for this thinking seem fair, as he noted the U.S. was informed to quit smoking for its terminal results in 1967, but change wasn’t seen until 15 or 20 years later.

“It takes that long,” he stated.


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