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Supersize v Superskinny is a Channel 4 Documentary that brings one overweight person and one underweight person together in a diet swap. The pair live in the 'feeding clint' and have to eat exactly what their opposite eats in a typical day/ night/ early hours (in the case of the 'Supersizers').
I find it fascinating. Not only does it aim to teach a valuable lesson to both contestants as each learn that they can eat more/less, the documentary also touches on the ever growing issues of obesity and eating disorders. The first 3 series follow a group of anorexics and with the help of Ursula Philpot (dietician). They are supported and challenged to overcome their fears. The show also looks at obesity. The Supersizer is sent off to America to visit and morbidly obese American to see how they struggle and shock them into change.
The show is hosted by Dr Christian Jessen; star of 'Embarassing Bodies; Embarrassing Illnesses etc...' Jessen is perfect. He doesn't feature constantly; he is more sideline, initially greeting each SuperSize and Skinny, weighing them, having a general chat about their health and the implications of their diet and then bringing the pair together. He always has a one to one chat with each, to show them to dangers of their diet to spur them on, usually mid week when emotions are running high. Jessens offers the support that they need and this show really teaches the audience the importance of a healthy diet in an interesting way.
The show is educational. I've learnt a lot about the consequences of undereating and overeating. However, I find it more as an entertainment programme. Not to sneer or laugh at the contenders, but to follow their journey; their ups and downs and their triumphs.
The show starts with the Supersizer and Superskinny being weighed separately. Dr Jessen explains the health implications behind their weight to each and asks them why they want to change and what will happen if they don't.
The camera then looks briefly into the life of each, documenting on the supersizer and skinny as they explain and show us their eating habits. This is a great way for the audience to get to know and understand the person.
Next they meet each other, wearing nothing but unflattering 'granny pant' underwear (and bras for the ladies though some of the men could do with one aswell!). They compare the size of their arms and waists to each other and they the camera focuses on each one as they explain their inital reaction to each other. They are never rude to each other and most become very good friends by the end of the week, having supported and encouraged one another.
The pair have kept a food diary over a week before the show starts and they come face to face with their own and each others eating habits with the 'Food tube'. A weeks worth of their good is thrown down their own tube. The Supersizers fill the tank whereas the skinny's barely reach half. The look on each of their faces as they realise what the week will entail is priceless.
There are tantrums as Supersizers become frustrated with the lack of food and the Super Skinny's become physically sick. It all makes for excellent drama.
At the end of the week (which isn't documented day by day - you see about 3 meals breakfast, lunch and dinners worth) the Supersize and Super skinny are given diet plans and return after 3 months to have a final weight in to see how they have coped. The Supersizers always do amazingly well.
I love watching the journey of the anorexics as it explains valuable information about signs, diagnosis and treatment. I really became connected with the group of 3/4 anorexics and their struggle with the disease.
The show is an hour long and I feel everything is covered. It's entertaining, educational and I always anticipate the final weight in the see how the pair have done.
The newer series (5) which has just started is slightly different in format. It touches briefly on the life of one person with an eating disorder and the focus is mainly on the supersizer, barely touching the issue of undereating. I