Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Village on a Diet Episode 5 Recap: My last recap?

This show sure doesn't seem to be changing.

5 hours in and ultimately we're faced with a show that's reinforcing many of the worst stereotypes of obesity and weight loss. That obesity's a disease of laziness. That the obese are ignorant. That treatment involves massive amounts of exercise. That healthy eating must include esoteric health food and always, always, always exclude dietary vices. That weight management is about suffering and that if someone's not successful with weight management, it's because they're weak willed.

One of the most telling parts of this week's episode? Trainer Garfield is waxing on about how every week there are less folks involved in his challenges and then concludes that the town is failing him. I guess it didn't occur to him that perhaps he's failing the town.

Another? They had psychologist Adele Fox talk hypnosis for smoking cessation. Never you mind that the Cochrane meta-analysis of randomized trials shows hypnotherapy for smoking cessation is no better than no treatment on 6 month quit rates - let's tell all of Canada it's a great plan.

You want more? How about the completely disrespectful, looking a mile down his nose chef who walked into the 30 year old single mom's restaurant shop and basically told her she was failing Taylor when really all she was doing was putting food on the table for her children? His condescension literally drove her out of town.

It's pretty clear by now, this show isn't about best evidence or best practice, it's about best TV.

It's too bad too.

Sure, the townsfolk are going to lose their ton, but losing a few pounds per person's not particularly difficult and no doubt some folks will have been so strict as to lose whole piles. As the show's taught both viewers and Taylorites, all you need to do to lose weight is suffer. Of course there aren't too many folks out there who are willing, regardless of how much weight they might lose, to suffer forever, which is why folks who lose weight through suffering invariably gain it back when the scale stops whispering sweet nothings in their ears. Ultimately folks who lose weight suffering tend to go back to the lives they lived before they lost, which while not conducive to weight loss, were at least lives they enjoyed.

How amazing would it have been to have a show that broke the classic reality TV weight loss mould? Where the obese were treated compassionately. Where weights were explored from individual environmental, medical and psychological perspectives. Where treatment consisted more of education and empowerment about nutrition, energy balance and exercise than punishment. Where realistic goals were set and bolstered. Where the means to satiety were taught and cultivated. Where it was about nurturing realistic but still less than perfect lifestyles because striving for perfection is a recipe for failure.

Such a show would truly have the potential to positively impact a nation and a genre, not just a small town.

So no more recaps from me. Maybe I'll do a series recap down the road, but unless there's major change to the format, I'm not sure there's much left for me to say.