Supersize Vs. Superskinny

by Christine on September 6th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition

Has anyone caught that British show Supersize vs. Superskinny (it was on the OWN channel this weekend)? Apparently it’s been around since 2008, but I hadn’t heard of it or seen it before.  It was kind of an interesting show!

In the show, they take one underweight person and match them up with an overweight person, all while parading them in front of the camera repeatedly in their underwear for continual shock value. For two weeks they make the people swap meal plans. During that time they undergo nutritional counseling to tell them why their original diets don’t work for them and how to eat more healthfully.

The show also had some other segments, such as exploring different fad diets and exercise programs that are out there and measures their effectiveness. The show also quizzes average people about their knowledge of nutrition, such as “what plate has the most calories?”

Some things I thought were interesting:

  • Skinny people often eat crappy junk foods. They aren’t necessarily skinny because they eat nothing but fresh lettuce and veggies. Similarly, overweight people often eat a more well-rounded assortment of healthy foods.
  • With overweight people, it seems like the biggest issue that they needed to wrap their heads around was the concept of portion control. Again, their food choices were by and large pretty good, but it was just the quantity of food that was out of control. Once they embraced smaller portions, the weight started to fall off.
  • Strangely, exercise wasn’t really covered with either of the two superfat or superskinny subjects.
  • I guess I personally was surprised that the superskinny person was dissatisfied with their body shape. As someone that has battled obesity all her life, I’ve constantly quested for thin! thin! thin! It seems mind-boggling to me that a thin person might not want to be thin.  Similarly, I have a hard time seeing “too thin” as a problem. I see a dangerously bone-thin person and still feel jealous longing for that kind of body shape. I wonder if this will ever change.
  • An extraordinary number of people are unaware of how many calories are in the food that they are eating. How good are you at estimating the calories in the foods available to you at restaurants, parties, in your workplace lunchroom, etc?
  • It seems that fat diets, although risky for many reasons, including medically risky, often seem to work. In the fad diet they examined, the person lost weight. In the fad exercise, the people lost weight. The problem with these diets is that they are hard to stick to and often cause people to binge out of control because they are hungry. The fad exercise programs (such as a specialized body vacuum while exercising) work but seems too expensive for an average person to use long-term.
  • British people seem far more okay with being abused about their body shape on tv. I think American women would be sobbing for the way the tv show hosts abuse them. And they took random people off the street and paraded them in front of the cameras, too! I don’t think that Americans are as comfortable with their body shape and would not be likely to volunteer to do that. I wonder why there is such a sociological difference in our body perception and comfort level with our bodies?

Perplexingly, although the schtick of the show is to get the superfat and superskinnies to swap food while telling them how problematic each meal plan is. It seems hardly appropriate to give extreme meal plans to anyone–especially under the guidance of registered dieticians–much less people whose bodies are clearly not used to that kind of extreme change.

As we jump into September, let’s all take a moment to stop and re-evaluate how much food we are eating at any given sitting. Remember to measure and weigh your foods to keep yourself honest! Remember to eat off of small plates so you don’t fill the urge to “fill up” larger sized plates!

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