When food is foe

“You can’t be too rich or too thin”, said one of the rather sad looking journalists involved in provoking herself into developing an eating disorder for the sake of our entertainment on television last night.
The well-known saying (most often attributed to Wallace Simpson) seems to have developed as a truth for our age, perhaps partly because obesity is increasingly seen as a sign of poverty.
It’s a trend that was spotted years ago in the States and one which we seem to be readily accepting over here.
Last night’s Channel 4 programme Super-Skinny Me: The Race to Size Zero http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/S/superskinny_me/?intcmp=homepage_box1 has already brought predictable condemnation from eating disorder groups for showing how extreme diets brought about dangerous weight loss.
But what the outrage fails to take into account is that the two subjects involved were intelligent, well-off women who were only able to embark on this dubious documentary because they were able to spend hours and hours exercising, preparing their faddy diets and being excused poor performance at work due to the “experiment”.
The resulting impact on their minds and bodies was indeed shocking – Kate Spicer in particular appeared to be suffering considerable mental anguish – but the results have dubious value to those women locked into a cycle of self-abuse through their relationships with food.
Sufferers do not consciously embark on such a journey in the full knowledge of the consequences in the way that journalists embarking on a story have to and often cannot easily fund expensive treatments or find help to cope with the reality of the very pressures which prompted their disorder in the first place.
These are the luxuries of the observer – not the participant.
I trust that both Kate and Louise Burke have now returned to a weight and body shape which they can be comfortable with and that their experiences provided them with some insight into this disturbing issue.
For us rather uncomfortable viewers, all their efforts demonstrated was that yes, you can be too thin but that being rich probably won’t impact badly on your health unless a television crew is involved.
Information and help on all aspects of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating disorder and related eating disorders can be found here.
What did you think of the programme? Have your say below.


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