Saturday 24 March 2018

RTE and Ray D’Arcy defend Operation Transformation after health expert slates show

Ray D'Arcy
Ray D'Arcy

Ryan Nugent

RTE and broadcaster Ray D’Arcy have been forced to staunchly defend TV show Operation Transformation after it was slated on D’Arcy’s radio show by health expert, Jacky Jones.

Ms Jones, a former Irish health service official, hit out at the health programme – which is designed to help fight obesity among contestants – saying she doubts it had any impact on decreasing obesity in Ireland.

She said it was an entertainment show, but isn’t even entertaining anymore.

D’Arcy, whose show is the official radio partner to Operation Transformation, asked Ms Jones what her gripe was with the show.

Ms Jones referred to how wider society including government health and fiscal policies, along with local authorities should tackle the obesity crisis and not television shows.

However, D’Arcy retorted saying: “I don’t think Operation Transformation would ever claim that it’s fighting obesity on its own, it’s part of a bigger picture and isn’t something better than nothing?"

Ms Jones responded: “I wouldn’t think so.”

She added: “If the focus is on individuals and if all of the people out there who have weight problems at the moment, if they were all given the support of four health professionals for seven weeks or whatever it is, eight weeks, they would be able to change too.

“The focus is on the individual instead of the whole population.

“Since Operation Transformation started, which was about 10 years ago, obesity has probably doubled, I’d say…maybe not doubled, that’s an exaggeration,” she added.

This was questioned by D’Arcy who said Ms Jones’s statistics had indicated a drop in obesity levels, which may be thanks in part to the TV show.

In response to the criticism, a spokeswoman from RTE said the statistics since the show started, were there for all to see: “The series does not promise to transform peoples’ lives in a few weeks. Rather, the series is a launch pad to encourage people to get healthier and change their attitudes towards food, lifestyle and self-esteem.

“Safefood - the sponsor for the series – conducted research and found that in 2016, over 280,000 people reported losing weight as a result of following OT with a third of those reporting losing between 6 and 12 pounds,” she added.

D’Arcy also referred to Ms Jones being a member of Healthy Ireland, which had partnered with Operation Transformation.

She explained that she wasn’t present for that particular meeting.

“They did (partner) but I didn’t really have a say in that, I wasn’t at that meeting – I’ve only missed one meeting but I would have been vociferously against it,” she said.

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