ENTERTAINMENT
21/04/2020 14:32 BST | Updated 21/04/2020 15:40 BST

BBC Addresses Backlash Over The Restaurant That Burns Calories

Many have suggested Fred Sirieix and Dr Zoe Williams' BBC Two show promotes an unhealthy relationship with food.

A BBC rep has spoken out about the backlash over The Restaurant That Burns Calories, following its debut on Monday night.

The divisive new show – fronted by First Dates star Fred Sirieix and This Morning medic Dr Zoe Williams – saw 20 diners presented with a menu, where each item was accompanied by the amount of exercise that would be required to burn it off.

In addition to this, the restaurant had an adjoining gym, where fitness fanatics on exercise bikes had to work out harder for everything the diners ordered.

The Restaurant That Burns Calories was met with criticism before it had even aired, with many on social media questioning whether it promoted an unhealthy relationship with food, and could be triggering for anyone who has an existing eating disorder. 

Among these critics was mental health campaigner Hope Virgo, who wrote in an article published on HuffPost UK: “What were the producers thinking suggesting that we need to earn our food (and then burn it off!)? Everyone’s bodies are completely different and we all need different amounts of food. 

“This kind of oversimplified messaging around eating and exercise shouldn’t happen ever but especially not during lockdown – a time when so many are struggling with a need for control, and heightened emotions, and lacking their usual support networks.” 

BBC/Voltage TV
Dr Zoe Williams and Fred Sirieix in The Restaurant That Burns Calories

Responding to the backlash, a BBC spokesperson told HuffPost UK on Tuesday: “The intention of the programme was to give viewers information about the latest research into the science of calories, about why our bodies need them and how our bodies use them.

“In particular, it looked at recent studies by academics in both the US and the UK, which suggest that diners may make healthier choices when presented with information about how much activity is required to burn off the calorie content of dishes. The voiceover is clear throughout that there are government guidelines for the recommended number of calories needed for the average man or woman to remain healthy.”

They added: “The programme never endorses or suggests restricting calories below these levels.”

Meanwhile, Fred has also been responding to comments about the show on social media, though it seems he’s not taking much of the criticism on board:

HuffPost UK has also contacted Fred’s management for additional comment.

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