I am writing to bring your attention to the potentially harmful messages about health and weight which are being promoted through Operation Transformation. I appreciate that the programme aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, but the emphasis on weight loss as an indicator of health is counter-productive and promotes body hatred.
I would especially like to bring your attention to the treatment of one contestant by Dr Eva Orsmond on the programme which aired 28/02/13. Dr Eva insensitively attacked a contestant for failing to meet a weight loss goal. This sends a hugely negative message to the public and especially to children and young people, both about the importance of a number on the scales and about the acceptability of bullying someone about their weight. It is ironic that the programme was aired in the same week that the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs launched their national Action Plan on Bullying. In a country where body image has been identified as a serious concern for children and young people (as highlighted in the recent Dail na nÓg report) associating success with weight loss and allowing a professional to humiliate a vulnerable young woman on national television, are completely unacceptable.
I urge RTÉ and Operation Transformation to reconsider the emphasis on weight loss and to focus instead on some of the other physical, social and emotional benefits associated with balanced diet and increased physical activity such as greater mental health, increased energy levels, greater life satisfaction, lower stress and greater social support.