This morning on my drive to work I was listening to the 104.1 radio breakfast show during which they were discussing extreme diet advice and asking listeners to call in and share their extreme diets, all in the name of family-friendly entertainment.
The callers (that I heard before changing the station because my blood was boiling) were all female and talked about diet tips such as:
1. wearing a rubber band around your wrist to flick yourself when you feel hungry because “the pain will make you forget about the hunger”.
2. getting daily hormone injections while eating 500 calories per day (“100 grams of protein, a bread stick and one serve of vegetables from a prescribed list… it actually works”).
3. drinking a heap of water before eating to reduce the amount you will eat (this apparently also works.. probably because your stomach is so full of water that you can’t fit much else in there, but who cares about nutrition, right?!).
What’s my problem?
Let me preface this rant by saying that I have no problem with people doing these things because, as horrible as the effects on your body may be, you aren’t harming anyone apart from yourself by following such an ‘extreme diet’. If you are a fully functioning adult and know the consequences of your choices, then go ahead and do what you want. But proudly talking about it and advertising how this diet helped you to lose weight on the radio during a breakfast show? That’s not okay.
This segment was on at about 8:15am, which is the prime time in which children are driven to school or sitting on a bus listening to the radio. Can you imagine what would cross the mind of a young girl who is on her way to school, already suffering from low self esteem and having to cope with the fact that she doesn’t look like one of those stick-thin models whose images saturate the media?
If this young listener wants to lose weight, as many young girls sadly think they need to do, she may just try out some of the extreme diet tips being discussed on the radio. And those tips may just include limiting her calories to a level that is far beneath the minimum energy requirement of an average person. In fact, food consumption below 2,100 calories per day and a lack of nutrient intake (as you would be achieving on a diet of 500 calories) constitutes a famine or humanitarian catastrophe.
This morning, advice on how to lose weight using such extreme diet measures was broadcast to whomever may have been listening; no matter their age, level of impressionability or psychological wellbeing.
Promoting disordered eating and dangerous diet advice
Whilst writing this, I visited a pro-ana (pro-anorexia) forum, which was one of the saddest websites I have ever visited. One of the top tips for losing weight on those forums was: “Always wear a rubber band on your wrist. Slap when you’re hungry and BAM! Not anymore”. This kind of behaviour is exactly that of the anorexic and self-harm mentality. And this and its “benefits” are being discussed on breakfast radio at the exact time that parents would be driving their children to school? That is completely unacceptable.
If you follow a diet that you wouldn’t want an eight, twelve or fourteen year old child (or even another adult) to follow, why are you proudly discussing it (or facilitating a discussion about it) on morning breakfast radio? If your method of losing weight is to physically hurt yourself to stop yourself from eating, why are you promoting this to the whole of Sydney? Actions like that fall into the category of eating disorder behaviour and what you are promoting is exactly that.
Stop allowing destructive diet advice to be shared
Shame on you 2dayFM, for allowing this segment to hit the airwaves and reach the impressionable minds of young people around Sydney.
I would hope that in the future the outcomes of such discussions are thought about more clearly with your audience in mind.
This morning, a large platform was given to people who were:
1) promoting one of the top diet tips that anorexic individuals follow.
2) eating less than one-third of the daily recommended amount of calories (and less than my Maltese x Shih Tzu dog).
Allowing people to share their unhealthy and damaging diet behaviours to your audience in the name of “entertainment” is disgusting, in particular considering the chosen timing of the segment and the people who may have been listening at the time. Perhaps these listeners even switched off before your quick disclaimer at the end of the segment that a “healthy diet” should be followed. I know I did, and didn’t know about it until I spoke to a friend.
If you believe you may be suffering from an eating disorder or have been trigged by this post or by the segment on the radio, please contact The Butterfly Foundation.