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13th Jan 2022

Campaign to decommission Operation Transformation garners over 8,000 signatures

Sarah McKenna Barry

The petition has said that the series “perpetuates weight stigma” and “contributes to the ongoing discrimination of people in bigger bodies”.

A petition calling for the decommission of RTÉ’s Operation Transformation has attracted over 8,000 signatures.

The campaign, which was set up Intuitive Eating Ireland and Jo Moscalu, has said that Operation Transformation is a “weight loss entertainment show that normalises disordered eating behaviours and perpetuates weight stigma”.

The petition also states that there is “no evidence” to suggest that the methods used on the show are effective in the long-term.

It reads: “Operation Transformation is a weight loss TV show in Ireland that has been on our screens every year since 2008. Every year, 5 volunteers are recruited and endure a strict weight loss plan including a restrictive diet and intense exercise programme for 8 weeks.”

It goes on to say: “Operation Transformation perpetuates weight stigma in Ireland and contributes to the ongoing discrimination of people in bigger bodies across our country.

“The Irish public deserve to know if the OT programme will result in long-term weight loss and improved health markers. The research clearly concludes that dieting does not result in long-term weight loss for the vast majority of people. The Irish public deserve to not feel stigmatized or shamed on the basis of our weight.”

The Irish eating disorder organisation Bodywhys also issued a statement on the programme, saying that a more inclusive approach to the series is necessary, as well as additional disclaimers.

They said: “Many of our service users have highlighted that the show has been and continues to be triggering for them, causes them distress and impacts negatively on their mental health. This is, in particular, for those who have or live with a person with an eating disorder, or those experiencing disordered eating.

“Although the show has a positive objective intending to bring focus to health and well-being, the considerable emphasis on dieting, body weight and shape and the way these are measured, collectively counted and presented, create a community sanctioned dieting culture that research shows does little to achieve long-lasting weight loss or health promotion.”

In response to the various campaigns, RTÉ said: “Now in its 15th season, Operation Transformation has evolved considerably over the years and now encompasses a more holistic approach to adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well as losing weight.

“In this year’s series, for example, the weekly check-in (the part of the show where the leaders meet the experts) incorporates an overall health check looking at a range of health indicators including blood pressure, cholesterol, hydration, sleep quality and psychological wellbeing.”

They concluded: “In previous seasons the leaders have spoken about the long-standing positive influences this experience has given them and viewers have spoken about how the leaders inspired them to do the same.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article, you can contact Bodywhys at (01) 2107906 from Monday, Wednesday and Sunday 7.30pm-9.30pm and Saturday 10.30am-12.30pm, or email [email protected] anytime.