Beat, the UK's eating disorder charity, has responded to the TV programme Lose a Stone in 21 Days with Michael Mosley, aired last night on Channel 4.
Beat's Director of Services, Caroline Price, says:
‘It is incredibly worrying to see a national programme yet again promoting extreme weight loss and crash dieting. The promise inherent in the title is likely to attract people suffering from or vulnerable to eating disorders and risks encouraging those affected to attempt the methods shown despite the damage this could cause.
‘Research has shown that dietary restraint, including the restriction of calories, has been found to be a risk factor in the development of an eating disorder. The programme did not appear to look after the participants’ mental health in any way, such as consultations with a psychiatrist. However, it did have an alarming focus on the participants’ weight, BMI and measurements, as well as encouraging them to carry out activities that we know those affected by eating disorders may engage in, such as destroying food to avoid eating it or fixating on eating a restricted number of calories.
‘We wrote to Channel 4 in advance of the programme voicing our concerns and providing guidance on reporting in a responsible and non-triggering way. In fact, the programme caused enough stress and anxiety to our beneficiaries that we extended our Helpline hours to support anyone affected and received 51% more contact during that time. It is very disappointing that once again, their needs have been ignored by broadcasters.’