The Restaurant That Burns Off Calories: Show hosted by First Dates star criticised by eating disorder charity – Sky News

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An eating disorder charity has criticised food and exercise show The Restaurant That Burns Off Calories, saying it saw an increase in demand for services as the programme aired.

Hosted by First Dates maitre d’ Fred Sirieix and GP Zoe Williams, the BBC2 Horizon episode showed 20 unsuspecting diners visiting a “restaurant with a difference” – with a group working out on exercise equipment behind the scenes to show how long it took to burn off every single calorie ordered.

The broadcaster says the programme did not endorse or suggest restricting calories below recommended levels.

Ahead of the show airing on Monday, eating disorder charity Beat posted on social media advising its followers not to tune in.

Afterwards, it said its services had been in “high demand” due to the show.

On Tuesday morning, the charity tweeted again to remind its 36,000 followers that its helplines are open.

Beat’s director of services, Caroline Price, told Sky News: “We know that the myth that all calories eaten must be cancelled out through exercise has the potential to be devastating to those suffering from or vulnerable to eating disorders.

“Being told how much activity it would take to burn off particular foods risks triggering the illness further, and we strongly advise against anyone at risk to avoid these sources of information.

“We would urge television commissioners to consider the impact that their programmes may have on vulnerable people, and instead focus on healthy and balanced eating.”

Food writer and former Great British Bake Off contestant Ruby Tandoh, who has spoken about her struggles with eating disorders in the past, also criticised the show.

“It horrifies me that the BBC would think this is remotely responsible programming at any time, let alone now,” Tandoh posted on Twitter.

Fred Sirieix in The Restaurant That Burns Off Calories. Pic: BBC/Voltage TV
‘If you value your health this is a must watch,’ Sirieix said on Twitter before the show aired. Pic: BBC/Voltage TV

In a statement sent to Sky News, a BBC spokesperson said the intention of the episode was to give information about the latest research into the “science of calories”, why our bodies need them and how they are used.

The spokesperson continued: “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 (2,500 for men and 2,000 for women).

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

Siriex tweeted ahead of the show to say: “If you value your health this is a must watch. Enjoy x.”

Sky News has contacted a representative for the star for comment.

A representative for Williams, who is best known for the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m A Doctor and appearances on ITV’s This Morning, said she did not want to comment.

For anyone suffering from an eating disorder, Beat’s helpline is available 365 days a year – 0808 801 0677.

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