New Year, New Beginning for Ireland

14 Jan
september 12 020

Credit: Catherine Collins

With the beginnings of a New Year, many of us are looking forward to a fresh new start, full of the best intentions. Obesity in Ireland has hit new heights and there are controversial decisions to be made with regards to this. RTÉ’s latest season of Operation Transformation will be hoping to have an effect on the nation’s ever –expanding waistline, but journalist and economist David McWilliams has a new plan in mind: offering people money to lose weight. If you have any thoughts on that, feel free to comment in the box below!

Operation Transformation is hitting our screens again, in what promises to be one of the most popular seasons yet. Uplifting stories about regular members of the public who followed their “Operation Transformation Leader” is coupled with “heartbreaking” emotional stories about the stress that the contestants were under, in order to gain this weight in the first place. In my opinion, RTÉ spends a disproportionate time documenting this side of the “Transformation” this year, in a style not unlike the American, British and Australian versions of our show: The Biggest Loser.

Is it really the way forward though, to highlight the problems that made the contestants the weight that they are? Or should the focus be more on the exercises that they will be performing, the eating plans, the tips on how to stay motivated? There’s no denying that it is good television, to have people break down onscreen. And emotional issues are clearly a trigger for overeating and weight gain in many cases. But is it exploitation of the contestants, in what is for the majority of people, a highly personal issue? Are the broadcasters taking advantage of the vulnerability of their participants?

For the New Year, economist David McWilliams has put forward the idea of giving people financial incentives to lose weight. McWilliams argues that we are paying for the health problems of overweight and obese people in Ireland in any case. Why not hit them at the source, at the root of the problem? He has a point.

According to McWilliams, there are studies in the US which show that this will work. “There is little evidence that willpower alone is enough.” But he estimates that the costs of obesity for Ireland is €4 billion.

Can we afford to keep paying this much?

€4 billion, as I’m sure all will agree, is an excessive amount to be spending on what is, essentially, a health crisis. If that money could be saved, and the health problems of many averted, by giving people cash incentives to lose weight, then surely that is a good thing?

Courtesy of Julian Jorge

Presenters Jonathan McCreigh and Claire McKenna, of TheSpin on Spin1038, put this question to the Irish public. Is paying people to lose weight a good idea? Would it work? Click on the link below to hear more

Should we pay Irish people to lose weight?

And what if you do want to lose weight? What if that was, in fact, your New Year’s Resolution, even before you heard that there might just be a financial incentive (in the future, of course). What could you do now?

It’s no news that the only way to effectively lose weight and keep it off is to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. But if you need some inspiration and motivation, we’ve got a few ways to help you out.

No 1: Check out our Pinterest board and specifically our healthy recipes page As a college student we know it can be difficult to eat healthily all the time, but you should be aiming to have healthy lunches and dinners at least 4 days a week.

No 2: Take up a new sport. If you’re a team player, the new season will be kicking off for many teams this time of year. Even if you’re starting mid-season, you can be guaranteed other people will be too. If that doesn’t appeal to you, check out the gym. Just be aware, it could be pretty packed this time of year. What sort of exercise should you take up? For tips on starting running, click here

Catherine Collins


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