BBC Scotland shames the fat and shames the truth with morbid titillation and distortion of the facts


Auchinleck in Ayrshire where ‘Shedding the Fat’ was filmed

In their recent ‘documentary’, ‘Shedding the fat’, BBC Scotland concealed recent encouraging trends in obesity and created a scare story based on the conflation of statistics about overall obesity (BMI >30) with images of people with morbid or super obesity (BMI >40). All of those featured were morbidly or super obese.

Against the background filming of these people, struggling physically and often sobbing, we heard that ‘12 million in the UK are now obese’ and that ‘29% of people have so much fat it’s a danger to their lives.’ Given that these facts were spoken against the filmed background of only those with morbid or super obesity, there was a clear danger of equating those statistics with the images of morbid and super obesity, but morbid obesity is actually far less common than the 29% referred to.

According to recent research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: ‘It is predicted that 11 per cent of the population in Wales will be morbidly obese in 2035, roughly 340,000 adults, while Scotland is likely to plateau at about 5 per cent and England will rise to about 8 per cent.’

5% is a very much smaller figure than 29%. It was clearly important to inform the viewer that they were watching people suffering from morbid and super obesity and to inform them what the figure is for that group.


Presumably, super obesity is even less common than morbid obesity, yet we heard the 29% figure as a clearly morbid or even super obese woman appeared in the local hospital. This is a major distortion of the facts which can only have confused and concerned the viewers.

Not only did the programme distort reality but, also unforgivably, it lingered morbidly, titillating the viewer, with close-up images of extremely vulnerable people as they struggled to walk or as they sobbed desperately, feeling trapped in their awful circumstances – ‘we want to live!’. These people are seriously unwell, not circus acts. One has to wonder why they agreed to such invasive filming. Did they receive financial inducements? Were they persuaded that the programme would improve services by drawing attention to the limited resources available?

Finally, this production is only the latest in a series of inaccurate reports on obesity in Scotland. See:

BBC Scotland once more hide SNP Government’s policy success to create scare on obesity in women










3 thoughts on “BBC Scotland shames the fat and shames the truth with morbid titillation and distortion of the facts

  1. gavin November 28, 2018 / 8:41 am

    BBC Scotland is the par excellence of “yellow journalism”.
    If blubber is the equivalent of hucksterism, then BBC Scotland is the morbid obesity champion of broadcasters.

    And we pay for this substandard, fact-free crap!


  2. Contrary November 28, 2018 / 9:25 am

    Radio Scotland is going hell for leather on the fat thing, yesterday call Kaye asked why are children in Scotland so fat, told us not enough schools are doing the daily mile (I.e. The Scottish government initiative isn’t working), emphasis was that it was parents fault, asked how can we stop all children from becoming obese,,, etc. Sigh. No mention of projections showing obesity in Scotland is set to plateau at 5% – thank you for that easy to remember phrase, John, it is really really useful for repeating in my head while I’m told how inadequate I am and my country is – their banging on about how fat we are, besides making you want to go out and eat many many pies, shows how much they are lying to us.

    I use ‘lying’ as a simple way to cover any kind of distortion or misinformation – I find it a quick simplistic way to ask people to think about what they are told.

    Degrading self-respect = desire to stay in the union (uk one). Raise self-respect = realisation that self-determination is not only possible, but desirable.

    I don’t usually ask people what their voting intention might be, but I was drunk at the weekend and something triggered me to ask a friend how she thought of Scottish independence – it also emerged that she felt uncomfortable during indyref1 because she wanted to stay in the union and most folks she knew didn’t, so I regret that discomfort and being part of the cause – her and husbands choice was purely emotional, wanting to keep that connection with family in England. Now, purely on the basis of the Brexit vote, being present at an EU ref vote count at 75% to remain in the area being a key trigger, her and husband are firmly in the Yes camp. I said ‘so you are No to Yes?’, to which the reply was ‘is that a thing?’. Oops, we forget not that many people that are now converted to Yes actually look to the comfort of online Yes output. Lots of people will have made the emotional choice to believe in independence that we wouldn’t hear about. Good for them, good for Scotland, good for their self respect.


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