Wednesday, January 05, 2011

CBC's Village on a Diet episode 1 recap: Never mind about the diet part.

For a show called, "Village on a Diet", they sure do a lot of exercise.

The show's premise is pretty straight forward. There's a town in British Columbia called Taylor and it's not a particularly healthy town. Overweight and obesity run rampant, there's no grocery store, and residents rely on junk food and take out to eat. The town council, in a dramatized staged for TV scene vote to fix the health of their town and fly in 2 fitness trainers, a dietitian, a psychologist and a physician to help the town lose 2,000lbs in 3 months time.

And how are they going to do it? Why with, "a team of butt kicking experts" of course, because clearly the town must just be lazy. Gosh, weight management is so easy, just like Village on a Diet trainer Mike Veinot says, "If they stick to it, it works. It's a simple solution to a huge problem".

Yup, easy peasy.

The first episode provides the cookie-cutter, boot campy style exercising, replete with yelling, overexertion to the point of vomiting (there's a great way to get someone to love exercising), and teasers of folks running with hay bales, pulling cars and doing whole piles of exercises that people have come to expect from weight-loss television.

But hey, what about diet? Isn't what goes into our bodies responsible for 70-80% of what we weigh?

Yes, but the show doesn't let that bother them. In total they spent less than 20% of the show on food, a total of 8.5 minutes where basically all they taught viewers was that take out pizza's bad, junk food's bad, and that to succeed you've got to give up all your favourite foods and resist the temptation to ever eat them again. And even while talking about food, they focused on fitness, with one young boy whose eating habits they were exploring stating uncontested to the camera,

"The reason I'm probably overweight is because I don't get out that much, I just sit and play video games."
Yeah, never mind what you're father's feeding your little body.

They also try to scare the townsfolk into action by having them take something they're calling, "The Body Age Test". You can take it too online at the Live Right Now website. But don't put too much stock in it. It told me my body age was 17.

Basically they've dumbed down the incredible challenge of successfully managing weight in an environment exceedingly hostile to weight management to be a MOVE MORE, eat less, it's so simple solution, and while I suspect the television cameras and the fact they'll have a national audience will indeed inspire Taylor to lose weight in the short run through classic under-eating and over-execising, if the first episode portends the town's 3 month approach, sadly I suspect their losses will be short lived.

Bottom line? This is a Village being put on a classic "diet" - nothing new here, and classic dieting has been shown in studies to fail in the long run over 95% of the time.

The one shining star of the show is Dr. Ali Zentner. While I can't understand why she'd lend her name to what so far seems like opportunistic and exploitative television, at least so far she strikes me as real, came off as warm, is a natural on camera, and I'd be willing to wager, unlike the show's trainers, behind the scenes with the townsfolk she'll be focusing on helping them to make more realistic changes. Time will tell.

Here's hoping the show gets better. Stay tuned for weekly recaps each Wednesday.

If you missed the show, you can catch it online here.

Did you see it? What did you think?