Brand new series Secret Eaters began last night. Since it had been quite heavily advertised (no pun intended) and Channel Four were getting pretty excited about it, I thought I’d take a look to see how it was different from Supersize v Superskinny and similar shows.
Well apparently we Brits are a nation of ‘secret eaters’. I never knew this. I can’t remember ever eating secretly, except for when I cunningly snaffled an illicit biscuit from the tin aged six but I’m not sure that counts. No, apparently we manage to eat so secretly, that not even we ourselves realise we’ve done it.
Take the brother and sister pair on last night’s show. Jill and Stuart from the Wirral have been gradually putting on weight over the last couple of years and are now rather chubby. Neither of them can possibly imagine how this has come about. Jill in particular is upset, as she’s terribly good and has tried lots of healthy eating diets but has ‘never lost a pound’. Both of them are certain they are eating well below the recommended daily calorie intake with 16 stone Stuart claiming ‘I’m pretty sure I don’t eat enough.’
And here’s where the Secret Eaters team comes into its own. Over the next two weeks Jill and Stuart must keep food diaries detailing everything they’ve eaten. On top of that bugs and secret cameras are installed in their homes so we can later laugh at footage of them stuffing their faces and detectives are employed to follow them around and root through their bins tutting if they find a burger wrapper.
So what were the results for poor old Stuart and Jill? Stuart is just found to eat too much too late in the evening. But the other findings were quite startling, as it seems Jill is suffering from a pretty bad case of what-I’ve-put-in-my-mouth amnesia. Whilst her diary states she ate just 1300 calories each day and barely ate between meals, footage shows her consuming eight packets of crisps, four chocolate bars, a pack of Mini Eggs and hoovering up her family’s unwanted leftovers over the course of one week. And it’s not like this ‘secret eating’ is conducted whilst hiding furtively in the cupboard under the stairs but instead done brazenly sprawled on the sofa.
When this is pointed out to Jill she seems astonished. Who knew she had eaten all those things? Certainly not her.
Once ‘aware of the scale of their over-eating’ they are put on a ten-week ‘Food Rehab’ programme where they are kept on a healthy diet and encouraged to understand that not eating between meals means not even crisps, Mini-eggs, chocolate bars or family leftovers.
At the end of it all lo and behold they’ve both lost a significant amount of weight. It was a real turn up for the books.
Basically all the programme seemed to prove is that some people are really stupid and that if you eat too much you can get fat. Shame Channel Four couldn’t have dispensed with the private investigators and secret cameras and spent the money on producing a new drama or comedy series. At least with some good comedy we could burn calories laughing ourselves thin.