Despite the T.V being plagued with programs about diet, weight and exercise, of late, I find myself helplessly sitting down to watch each one. Whether it be critising people’s weight or targeting the size zero pandemic, the media is obsessed with the body, and therefore, so are us individuals. I usually try not to let myself become too wrapped up in these shows but The Men Who Made Us Thin, on BBC Two, really grabbed my attention.
Journalist Jacques Peretti investigates the people, from past and present, who are partly responsible for the world’s fixation with fad diets. It is no shock to most of us to hear, not for the first time, that diets are only a short term fix, but to hear the of the incredibly successful diet brand Weight Watchers say, “If the diets worked, there would be no business for us” is something else entirely.
Although I did find it shocking that they would speak so openly about this, I can’t say I was surprised. What is perhaps more shocking, is that the program also pointed out that some doctors are actually prescribing, the joining of Weight Watchers to overweight patients as a weight loss technique. Surely, any medically trained professional would know much better than that? Surely they would know that only 16% of these dieters keep the weight off long-term. After learning that Weight Watchers is actually owned by Heinz I had to ask myself the impending question, is the fact it is owned by a food company ironic or does this tell us all we need to know?
For almost 60 years, the diet industry has been preying on people’s self-hatred, shame and insecurities, in order to make a sickening amount of money from the selling of their diet products. The brains behind the product know that dieters will seek it out again and again, looking for that euphoric hit experienced at the start of a diet. This infatuation is what some believe to be a main cause of eating disorders.
These issues might seem so detached to them that they never think of the consequences. I can only hope that this is the case, because when children as young as six believe the word ‘fat’ is a disgusting then there is clearly a problem.
As someone who likes to think I know a bit about dieting, I learnt a great deal from Peretti’s investigations and I am not exaggerating to say it has impacted my life, or at least, changed the way I think. Now when I’m flicking through a magazine and see the latest diet plan, I no longer let the words draw me in. Despite knowing for a long time that these diets are superficial, I have finally accepted it. The only proven way to loose weight and be healthy in the long-term, is a healthy attitude.