In a rare moment of unity, both of Australia’s major current affairs programs, Today Tonight and A Current Affair, have declared they won’t be screening any weight loss stories during the year. This will be a shock to many as, in 2008, magical weight loss contributed 28% of all stories, ahead of shonky builders and car dealers (24%), and amazing beauty therapies (19%).
“To be honest, we have known for years that virtually every weight loss program we have covered has been unhealthy and untenable”, admitted Today Tonight producer Charles Chicane. “A couple of times we have followed up on these people and the company has either gone out of business or the interviewee is now a good 40kg heavier. We never, ever do a follow-up story. It’s an unwritten law”.
There has been an outcry from weight loss and supplement companies around the country.
“Current affairs programs have been the best free advertising we ever got ” said Martin Mountebank, President of the False Hope Institute. “These stories have given a real boost to sales over the years. Just because nearly every person regains their lost weight doesn’t mean that someone out there has not benefited over the years”.
The gap in programming will be hard to fill admits Chicane. “Look, we will have to fill the gap left by weight loss programs going forward, but I’m certain we can come up with stories that have equal merit. Only yesterday I saw someone wearing a red tie with a pink shirt. That’s just one of the issues we face today”.
Both program producers agreed it would change current affairs forever. “If cosmetic surgery is ever proven to be an expensive and egocentric attempt to distract people from a vacuous and unfulfilling life then we will probably drop those stories too” said Chicane.