Supersize vs Superskinny :-O

I was watching the Channel 4 programme, Supersize vs Superskinny last night.  A programme where they show two extreme examples of an overweight and an underweight person. It details their diets and gets the individuals to swap their diets and shows examples of why their actions and diet choices are the problem, and are effectively killing or damaging them. 

Last night, the Supersized woman (Helen Simpkin) was 25 stone, 17 stone overweight.  Here’s what she ate and drank in a day: 

  • Breakfast: Left over chinese (two full portions) and 2 red bulls.
  • Lunch: 8 choc fingers for lunch and 2 red bulls.
  • Snack: A pack of biscuits.
  • Dinner: 14 inch meat pizza for dinner (probably about 5000 calories), 2 red bulls.
  • Evening snack: Kebab, 2 red bulls. 
  • Midnight snack: Pasty and pack of custard creams, plus 2 red bulls.
    (10 cans of red bull over the course of a day). 

Healthy eh??! :-S  The red bull alone was around +1,100 calories a day: +7,700 calories a week: over +2lbs a week!  :-O

It really surprises me that people can think that this kind of eating is ok.  She genuinely thought (before she went on the programme) that her portions and types of food she ate were ok.  She was eating 15 days worth of food in a week, not doing any exercise, and ‘drank the red bull to give her energy to look after her kids’. 

To help her change, series presenter Dr Christian Jessen went with her to San Francisco to meet the world’s heaviest woman, Pauline Potts, whose obesity has ruined her life. 

Pauline is morbidly obese and had her 16 year old son looking after her.  I felt some level of sympathy for Pauline, but then when you looked at her diet and what she drank, she had it so very wrong as well… so you could easily say she got herself to the size she is and got her the misery she’s in now. It really made the supersized woman open her eyes anyway, and she’s been successful in changing her diet and has lost weight.

The Superskinny one was shocking too (Elaine Chapman)… 6 stone 5, 3 stone underweight, here’s what she ate and drank: 

  • 15 cups of tea over the course of a day.
  • Lunch: A bag of crisps.
  • Dinner: Vegetable Soup.

That was it!  Scary biscuits (without the biscuits! 😉 )  They did a thing on how having that amount of tea affects you.  The contents of the tea, the sugar and the milk: anaemia along with other complications including hair loss, and lack of vitamin absorption.  

I do eat often, and I eat a lot of different things.  I eat chocolate and have treats and fast food, but tend to eat healthily and varied most of the time. And I train lots (burning around 5000-6000 calories a week), so can effectively afford to eat what I want anyway.  I drink mainly water, which helps and don’t go for coffee, tea, red bull or fizzy juice (apart from the odd occasion). 

I guess I’m lucky that my Dad taught me to have a healthy and varied diet, not restrict food all that much and exercise regularly.  🙂 

He also let me know when he thought I was looking ‘comfortable’ weight wise (BMI verging on 25 through settled and happy living), which was the thing to kick start me into exercising more regularly and with purpose in June 2008. 🙂 Thanks Dad. x

I know the examples above are really extreme, but they just make me wonder: 

  • How can people get it SO wrong with their diet? 
  • Why there wasn’t a trigger for them earlier, to realise that perhaps they should do something about their weight, diet and lifestyles?

And, if they get their diet and lifestyles so fundamentally wrong, I wonder how much else in their life is wrong?
(ie exercise, relationships, bringing up their kids, work, life in general).

After I posted this, I got a comment from a guy Tom Ravell who has done a rather entertaining review of the show, you can read it here. 🙂  Enjoy.

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3 Responses to Supersize vs Superskinny :-O

  1. gkm2011 says:

    I think the most difficult part is seeing yourself through the eyes of others. My “comfortable point” is at one place and my other half still thinks I’m too thin, but we finally have agreed that it’s a personal decision. Interesting post.

  2. I think we often take common sense with food for granted. A lot of people are very badly educated on the matter, and programmes like this don’t really help as they’re more about being shocking and graphic and less about offering actual guidance. People’s problems aren’t solved by a diet plan (which we never see) but by a makeover in the studio and lighting.

    I just wrote a review of the episode myself, which you can read here!

    • lornpearson says:

      Cool – thanks Tom and thanks for the comment! Your post is good, I’d like to link to it from mine if that’s ok. 😀

      What this programme does for me is highlight the extreme cases, and shows the results of what these people are doing to (and effectivley any viewers who are doing the same to) themselves. For me it also shows (slightly) how someone in their circumstances can change to improve and in the long run hopefully improve their lifestyle and survive longer.

      As you say in your blog post, there isn’t enough of the ‘how to’ in the programme, but that’s not really what the programme is about. I particularly liked your last paragraph!! 🙂

      I spoke to a someone whose background is in medicine today who suggested that the majority of ‘Superskinny’ people in this programme are in fact most probably anorexic. Anorexics have a 40% mortality rate. Whilst, the proportion of deaths in England where obesity was recorded as a underlying reason for death is 25% (

      If this programme can act as a trigger for anyone who is ‘Superskinny’ or ‘Supersized’ to go to their GP / change their lifestyle, I can’t see that as a bad thing. I do take your point about the makeover, studio and lighting, but if this programme helps to make someone (obese or anorexic) seek the help they need to survive, then I’m all for it. 🙂

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