New BBC show where fitness fanatics exercise to burn off the calories in restaurant meals is blasted by eating disorder charities and viewers for being ‘triggering and insensitive’
- BBC Two show fronted by First Dates star and This Morning doctor Zoe Williams
- Horizon show involved 20 diners enjoying a meal in a restaurant while fitness fanatics behind scenes showed how much exercise required to burn off calories
- Sparked uproar and viewers including GBBO star Ruby Tandoh took to Twitter
- Eating disorder charity Beat strongly urged people with EDs not to watch show
Fred Sirieix’s new show The Restaurant That Burns off Calories sparked uproar last night, with many viewers taking to social media to accuse the programme of being ‘triggering’ and ‘insensitive’.
Leading eating disorder charity Beat urged people with conditions like anorexia and bulimia not to watch it, and reported a surge in demand for its services after the BBC Two Horizon production aired.
The hour-long show was hosted by the First Dates maître d and This Morning’s Dr Zoe Williams.
It involved 20 diners enjoying slap up meals at a restaurant, while fitness fanatics behind the scenes demonstrated how much exercise they’d need to do to burn off the calories their food contains.
The hour-long The Restaurant That Burns off Calories was hosted by the First Dates maître d and This Morning’s Dr Zoe Williams
It was based on a scientific study published at the end of 2019 by researchers at Loughborough University, which found that when menus showed how much exercise was required to burn off individual dishes, people chose to eat up to 20 per cent less.
It’s predicted that, if the system was widely adopted, it could shave nearly 200 calories off the average person’s daily consumption.
But many viewers felt the show’s premise was potentially dangerous, especially for people suffering from eating disorders.
Alice Pegram tweeted: ‘Cannot believe @BBCTwo are airing a programme called “The restaurant that burns off calories”. This is part of the huge problem I believe our culture faces with media. My thoughts go out to those affected by eating disorders. I urge people not to watch.’
The show was based on a scientific study published at the end of 2019 by researchers at Loughborough University, which found that when menus showed how much exercise was required to burn off individual dishes, people chose to eat up to 20 per cent less
Many viewers felt the show’s premise was potentially dangerous and triggering for people suffering from eating disorders
Twitter user Beca commented: ‘Feeling shocked and disgusted that the #horizon episode “the restaurant that burns off calories” was allowed to be aired. I can’t believe people feel this is healthy and appropriate entertainment. It’s so distressing to see the negative impact it has had on people. #HorizonHurts.’
And Frances Roxby-Proud wrote: ‘Horizon tonight. The restaurant that burns off calories. The most triggering programme I have watched for ages… the idea of informing you how much exercise to do to burn off each dish.’
Amanda Hart added: ‘Really shocked at this programme on @BBCTwo The Restaurant that Burns off Calories. What message is this giving to people – that we have to burn off all the calories we eat??! Very triggering for those with eating disorders in particular.’
Caroline Price, director of services at the eating disorder charity Beat, claimed its support services were ‘in demand’ last night, adding: ‘I’m glad we could be here to support.’
‘I was feeling anxious just before “The Restaurant that Burns Off Calories” was aired… I was thinking… what if I’ve misunderstood & this is a total overreaction… sadly it wasn’t!’ she tweeted.
Caroline Price, director of services at the eating disorder charity Beat, claimed its support services were ‘in demand’ last night, adding: ‘I’m glad we could be here to support’
‘Remember whatever unhelpful misinformation is put out into the media about food & weight, you DO NOT have to earn your food!’
Former Great British Bake Off star Ruby Tandoh also took to social media to vent her criticism – and became embroiled in a war of words with host Fred.
She tweeted: ‘As many have pointed out, this is an appalling show premise at the best of times, let alone right now. People struggle SO much with their relationships with food – this will only worsen that anxiety. Reducing food to calories is unhelpful, joyless and leans into disordered eating.’
In response, Fred tweeted: ‘Thank you so so so much for using your platform and bringing attention to this really good #horizon scientific special… I think you will enjoy it. PS can’t wait to get your apology tweet later on.’
Former Great British Bake Off star Ruby Tandoh also took to social media to vent her criticism – and became embroiled in a war of words with host Fred
Ruby hit back with a series of tweets, arguing: ‘I’m not trashing it, I’m just saying that having all this talk of calories in and calories burned – on national TV, in the middle of a crisis – is really horrible for anyone, and especially for people who have (or had) eating disorders.’
She added: ‘It horrifies me that the BBC would think this is remotely responsible programming at any time, let alone now. It is SO well established by now that this kind of focus on numbers (minutes exercised, calories in, calories out) feeds into disordered eating. we deserve better.’
A BBC spokesperson told FEMAIL: ‘The intention of the programme was to give viewers information about the latest research into the science of calories, about why our bodies need them and how our bodies use them.
‘In particular, it looked at recent studies by academics in both the US and the UK, which suggest that diners may make healthier choices when presented with information about how much activity is required to burn off the calorie content of dishes.
‘The voiceover is clear throughout that there are government guidelines for the recommended number of calories needed for the average man or woman to remain healthy (2,500 for men and 2,000 for women). The programme never endorses or suggests restricting calories below these levels.’
Beat provides helplines for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders. Its helplines are free to call from all phones. If you need support, call 0808 801 0711.
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