Bravely Fighting Childhood Obesity with Reality TV

This week has been long and filled with serious news. So, we’re filled with gratitude for a hilariously absurd story from ITV and the British press. They’ve given us a load of comic relief to end the week. You might think of it as a load of something else, but we’re keeping it clean here. With a straight face, ITV says it’s fighting childhood obesity with a reality TV show.

The show? It’s Love Island. The Guardian describes it as “trashy escapism” that “sends buff young men and women into a Spanish villa to find love and have badly lit sex.”

Aspiring to Fight Childhood Obesity

Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, ITV executive Paul Mortimer said:

For us it’s a very aspirational programme for our audience, the perfect holiday they can only aspire towards. We cast sexy people, we’re a sexy channel. Those people work quite hard. There’s a gym, we show people working out.

There’s also another conversation going on about childhood obesity. If you want to look like the guys on Love Island you have to work out. We make no excuses that people more beautiful than us are entitled to go into a villa for eight weeks and find love.

Absurd, Funny, or Sad?

Ever the source for serious reporting, The Times put out a headline saying “Love Island bodies help UK to tackle obesity crisis.” Then, the paper dutifully reported reservations about unhealthy body image stereotypes.

For sure, British humor is a little different. So it’s hard to know if this is an outrageous joke or another example of British weight bias. But we’re not going to overthink it. We’re just going to laugh at this idiocy. Maybe we’re laughing with them. Or maybe we’re laughing at them.

Or perhaps we’re laughing to the point of crying because this might reflect a culture that is utterly clueless about obesity.

Click here for more from The Times and here for more from the Telegraph.

Cast of Love Island, publicity photograph © ITV

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August 25, 2018

One Response to “Bravely Fighting Childhood Obesity with Reality TV”

  1. August 25, 2018 at 7:21 am, Mary Jo Overwater said:

    The headline from The Times is totally tongue-in-cheek. After living in the UK for several years and traveling back and forth for even more, I can assure you, they take childhood obesity very seriously there. The Foresight Project really began to elucidate the issues of obesity, childhood obesity, obesogenic environment and continues to dedicate a lot of funding and efforts and great work. We laughed then at the original graphic generated from that work on the complexities of obesity — it was described as the ‘intestines of a rhinoceros’, but I thought it ironically did capture how we all feel and frustrate about obesity sometimes. Thankfully, the original diagram has been unpacked and presented with some clarity, along with continued efforts to seriously address the epidemic. Weight bias absolutely occurs in the UK, unfortunately. One of the worst remarks ever said and heard there toward women, especially larger women, and it breaks my heart every time, is “you stupid cow”. I can’t stand it.