Ciara Kelly defends Operation Transformation as 'a huge positive'

Eating disorder association BodyWhys says the show can be "triggering" for some people
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.30 6 Jan 2022

Share this article

Ciara Kelly defends Operation...

Ciara Kelly defends Operation Transformation as 'a huge positive'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.30 6 Jan 2022

Share this article

The good done by 'Operation Transformation' has to be acknowledged, according to Newstalk Breakfast host Ciara Kelly.

She was speaking after eating disorder association BodyWhys says it has received "a great deal of correspondence and concerns" around the RTÉ lifestyle show.

It says this relates to the show "triggering" and causing distress and negative impacts on some people's mental health.


"This is, in particular, for those who have or live with a person with an eating disorder.

"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... create a community sanctioned dieting culture".

It claims this approach "does little to achieve long-lasting weight loss or health promotion".

But Dr Kelly, who was the medical expert on the programme for five years, says there are more positives.

"From working on it, overall, I think it was a huge positive.

"That's not to dismiss the concerns of people who might be upset by any talk of weight loss if you have an eating disorder, and those things can be triggering - and I would suggest it's not the show for you.

"But the vast majority of people who engaged with the show, the communities that got out active, walking - we turned on the lights on GAA pitches so people would have somewhere to go at night to exercise.

"Supermarkets came onboard in terms of highlighting healthy options - get the fruit and veg into you."

She says the motivation of those involved is very real.

"The experts, and I know them all personally.... are incredibly well-motivated to help people.

"Not just the five leaders, but anybody out there who watches the show.

"So I think you have to acknowledge the benefits that that show does too.

"And I know there's something of a fashion online to attack things... but I do believe that it's well-motivated.

"And as somebody who has worked on it, I do believe the absolute bonafides of the experts - that they are trying to help people".

'Not without its faults'

While Dr Donal O'Shea, HSE lead for obesity, told Newstalk Breakfast he does not believe the show is a trigger.

"I don't think it's the trigger, I think the trigger is much more social media-based.

"Progammes like 'Dr Pimple Popper', 'The Biggest Loser' would need to be looked at before you would focus on a programme like Operation Transformation - which has a full multi-disciplinary team looking after people over an eight-week period.

"It's not without its faults, I've had issues with it over the years that I've spoken with the producers about.

"I watched last night's episode, first episode, and it was by far the least stigmatising and most holistic first episode that Operation Transformation has produced".

And Dr O'Shea believes other programmes would be targeted under such criteria.

"You need to look to social media, body image, body shape, and what triggers people in that space.

"And if you're going to talk about that, then you need to looking at things like 'Ireland's Fittest Families'.

"That puts a focus on elite and physical activity, and might drive - you could say - people towards over-exercising, and I don't buy that".

Ciara Kelly defends Operation Transformation as 'a huge positive'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00


Share this article

Read more about

Bodywhys Ciara Kelly Dr Donal O'Shea Eating Disorder Mental Health Newstalk Breakfast Operation Transformation RTE Well-motivated

Most Popular