Super Size Me – Body Shaming on RTE

I caught the end of the Claire Byrne show on RTE tonight and what I saw was very, very cringeworthy.

First of all, Operation Transformation is saying that it is acceptable to:

  1. Parade obese people around like they are some sort of experiment.
  2. Force them to wear a stupid spandex outfit on their weigh-in day to “show off the weight loss” and
  3. Body shamed people for entertainment purposes

Dr. Eva then proceeded to call the girl, who was making very valid points, a ‘supersize model’… and say that it is unhealthy to perpetuate the idea of someone being overweight is healthy. I disagree.



I agree that being ‘unhealthily’ overweight or obese should not be marketed. It would be like marketing any chronic condition as being healthy or cool.

However, she is a ‘plus-size model’ and she looked fairly ‘healthy’ to me. In other words, she is at most likely at NO increased risk of any disease as a result of her weight.

I think we all need to reassess the difference between have a little bit of excess weight, being overweight and being obese.

Let’s get something straight…you can be slightly overweight or overweight and be healthy.

Let’s use the BMI as an example. It’s shit, but it is a standard tool used for assessing overweight.

Dr Eva was correct in saying that if you store the majority of your fat in your midsection you are at increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and the list goes on. Therefore, we are going to use both to assess if someone is at risk and is ‘unhealthily fat’.

Basically, what this is saying is that if your waist is close to, or bigger than your hip measurment, you are at risk. Unless you have a tiny, tiny arse or massive abdominal muscles, this is fairly accurate.

Basically, if your waist is close to, or bigger than your hip measurement, you are at risk. Unless you have a tiny, tiny arse or massive abdominal muscles, this is fairly accurate.

A way of making sure the BMI isn’t misdiagnosing people is to do a waist-to-hip ratio* on them too. For people who are considered obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30) accompanied by a large waist to hip ratio they probably do NEED to lose weight. They are at risk of numerous health issues and they should consider changing their diet and eating habits.

For those who are overweight (BMI of 25 to 29.9) accompanied by a large waist to hip ratio and/or have two or more risk factors (eg. smoking, family history) it is recommended that you lose weight.

Keep in mind that for someone who is overweight even a small weight loss (as low as 5 percent of your current body weight) will help lower your risk of developing diseases associated with overweight/obesity.

People who are overweight/obese on a BMI scale and DO NOT have a high waist measurement, and have fewer than two risk factors may need to prevent further weight gain rather than lose weight. They are ‘healthy overweight’. These include a lot of people from ‘big’ sedentary people to those with increased amounts of muscle mass.

There is absolutely no ‘reason to be ‘ripped’ or be anywhere near single digit body fat from a health perspective. It is a vanity/aesthetic choice.

Dr Eva was saying that people who are overweight or obese can’t possibly wake up in the morning happy about themselves.. some people are probably self-conscious and yes, they do want to change… which is why you shouldn’t knock them down a peg by shaming them.

That doesn’t work. It makes them feel worse about themselves.

I’m not great at giving compliments, everyone knows that, but I would never mock someone in an effort to motivate them… it’s a ridiculous strategy and it needs to be stopped.

Not only are you mocking the guy/girl on the show and hurting their feelings, but you are turning off thousands of obese people who might have been considering changing, hiring a personal trainer, joining weight watchers or whatever, but now they think it entails spandex, ridicule and embarrassment…

Congratulations, you idiots, they are more likely to stay at home and do nothing now.


Bryan Kavanagh BSc. CSCS



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