Parental blame on a whole new level

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Newseries -

THE au­di­ence seemed de­ranged, but I imag­ine they had low blood sugar. Chan­nel 10 couldn’t ex­actly in­vite 3000 peo­ple to the open­ing night of The Big­gest Loser and then hand out treats. Be­sides, they wanted delir­ium. It comes across great on cam­era.

As it turned out, there was scream­ing any­way. Scream­ing and tears. Th­ese con­tes­tants in­spire it: it’s par­ents and their kids — guilty par­ents and their kids who they’ve made fat. Sob.

This isn’t like last year’s The Big­gest Loser, where, I seem to re­call, I wasn’t ‘‘ in­vested’’ in the characters be­cause I didn’t ‘‘ like’’ some of them very much. It’s early days for this new sea­son, but if it hasn’t hooked you by now you’re un­hook­able.

Chil­dren though. It could’ve been tricky — like, De­part­ment of Fam­ily Ser­vices tricky. But the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on the word chil­dren isn’t what it was. In my day, it was 12. You learned to drive at six, as­sum­ing you grew up in the coun­try. Now you could be 42 and still liv­ing with your par­ents and no­body would think there was any­thing wrong with you.

So you can see why th­ese Big­gest Loser moth­ers and fa­thers blame them­selves. Too much con­tact with over-eat­ing par­ents. Although genes are genes and I have to say, those Big­gest Loser T-shirts must be adding a good 5kg.

Gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion, obe­sity has been passed down through Aus­tralian fam­i­lies, Hay­ley Lewis tells us as she stands on the steps of the Big­gest Loser house. It’s an enor­mous house, and apt. Years ago you never saw houses like that in Aus­tralia. And you didn’t see obe­sity, de­spite what Hay­ley says. It wasn’t passed down, gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion.

Now, al­most 20 per cent of Aus­tralia’s adult pop­u­la­tion is obese and we ar­rived at that fig­ure in 20 years. Obe­sity was rare 30 years ago. Now we’re head­ing to­wards hav­ing an adult male pop­u­la­tion where 70 per cent is over­weight or obese.

So I trust those ter­ri­fy­ing fig­ures have as­suaged any qualms you have about child ex­ploita­tion? And we’ve de­cided th­ese aren’t chil­dren any­way? Oh, they’re some­one’s child, just not tech­ni­cally a child. Yes, one is 15. Todd. But look, if this was Utah he could get mar­ried.

Clearly he’s en­ti­tled to lose weight on na­tional tele­vi­sion if he wants to.

Most of us who watch tele­vi­sion prob­a­bly have moved well past the stage where we get up­set about ex­ploita­tion. I was think­ing about this as the cam­era hov­ered over Brett’s bo­soms. The only rea­son I knew they weren’t his mother’s was the prox­im­ity of the shot. Hu­mil­i­at­ing for Brett? Prob­a­bly not. He’s prob­a­bly used to peo­ple look­ing at him.

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