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Kathryn Thomas hopeful for another season of Operation Transformation despite backlash

'If it comes back, I will be at the helm for sure'

Dr Sumi Dunne with the Operation Transformation team, Karl Henry, Kathryn Thomas, Aoife Hearne and Dr Eddie Murphy

Clodagh Meaney

Kathryn Thomas has said that she is hopeful that controversial RTE show Operation Transformation will return in 2023 despite backlash.

Thomas, who is the presenter of the programme, said that the show is commissioned year by year and the decision on another season lies with RTE.

“Personally, I am not worried about the future but I don’t make the decisions in RTÉ about whether the show comes back,” she told VIP Magazine.

“We are only ever commissioned on an annual basis, it is year on year. But with the ratings the way they are I would be hopeful to see it coming back. If it comes back, I will be at the helm for sure.”

The show, which first aired in 2008, follows participants as they try to lose weight and get fit with the expert help of a personal dietician, fitness instructor, and psychologist.

In recent years, however, Operation Transformation has faced its fair share of backlash and criticism due to its focus on dieting and weight loss culture.

“Everyone’s opinion is valid, we have been on TV for 15 years so we need to keep changing and evolving,” Kathryn said.

“We got between 30 and 35 percent audience share again this year, which is phenomenal.”

“Operation Transformation is loved by the Irish public and the work we do everyday is important,” she added.

Presenter Kathryn Thomas

Ahead of its return earlier this year, Irish eating disorder support organisation Bodywhys issued a statement highlighting the negative impacts shows like Operation Transformation have had on people suffering with disordered eating.

They said: “Many of our service users have highlighted that the show has been and continues to be triggering for them, causes them distress and impacts negatively on their mental health. This is, in particular, for those who have or live with a person with an eating disorder, or those experiencing disordered eating.

“Although the show has a positive objective intending to bring focus to health and well-being, the considerable emphasis on dieting, body weight and shape and the way these are measured, collectively counted and presented, create a community sanctioned dieting culture that research shows does little to achieve long-lasting weight loss or health promotion.

“Anecdotally, we have heard that when the show is broadcast, a wave of pressure and conversations about food, calories, eating behaviours and exercising emerges in homes, workplaces and communities, where health messages become conflated with discipline and a numbers game that is unhelpful at least and damaging at worst.

“We cannot ignore the fact that hospital admissions for young people with eating disorders have risen by 66% and by 32% amongst adults, with increases also reflected across all community, specialist and inpatient services, including more acute presentations and admissions.

“Faced with this growing problem, programmes that are supported by public health initiatives need to take account of the audience they are broadcasting to, and ensure that they have appropriate signposting information at the very least.

"It is important that we are all aware of the impact this pressure can have on people of all different age groups and backgrounds in our society.”

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