This Morning was hit with almost 2,000 Ofcom complaints after airing a segment that promoted a 800-calorie a day diet as part of a ‘rapid weight loss’ programme.
On Friday, This Morning co-hosts Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary welcomed doctor Michael Mosley onto the show.
Michael had previously been criticised for promoting an 800-calorie daily diet for his controversial TV programme Lose A Stone in 21 Days.
However, on last week’s edition of This Morning, he stood by his opinion that he is a ‘fan of rapid weight loss, if you do it properly’, also claiming that studies have shown that consuming 800 to 1,000 calories a day can be ‘safe and effective’.
Numerous This Morning viewers called out the discussion, describing it as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’.
It has since emerged that Ofcom received 1,932 complaints about This Morning on the same day that Michael appeared on the show, although the regulatory body hasn’t specified what the complaints were about.
On its website, Ofcom said that ‘the number of complaints received is not an indication of how serious an issue is.’
Nonetheless, ‘all complaints are assessed against the Broadcasting Code’.
One viewer who watched the interview with Michael tweeted: ‘Beyond appalled that #ThisMorning are conveying a message that eating 800 calories a day is ok, a toddler needs more than that! An extremely damaging message.’
Another said: ‘I’m completely shocked that #thismorning even featured that segment – so damaging for the people aiming to lose lockdown weight and this goon preaching a completely unsustainable lifestyle by eating 800-1k cals a day.’
During the interview, Alison couldn’t contain her laughter when Michael displayed a 300-calorie dinner he had prepared, sarcastically stating: ‘I’m so excited to come round to yours Dr Mosley, I can’t wait.’
Michael previously faced heavy criticism for Channel 4 show Lose A Stone in 21 Days, which saw people whose BMIs had been categorised as overweight and obese take part in an 800-calorie daily diet.
While eating disorder charity Beat released a statement advising that people who are living with an eating disorder refrain from watching the programme, a spokesperson for the broadcaster told Metro.co.uk at the time:
‘The series examines the evidenced link between Covid-19 and the very real threat it poses to those who have a BMI in the obese or overweight categories, as highlighted by a recent study led by Liverpool University and involving Imperial College London that found obese people are around 37 per cent more likely to die if they catch Covid-19.
‘All episodes clearly state that a short-term 800-1000 calorie diet is only suitable for people whose BMI puts them in the overweight or obese categories and that it should be done with proper medical supervision.
‘The health and welfare of each contributor is of paramount importance to both Channel 4 and the production company and strict guidelines were followed before, during and after filming.
‘A number of health checks were undertaken on contributors before they embarked on the regime and support is ongoing. The continuity announcer directed viewers to programme support information after the broadcast.’
What is Ofcom and what does it cover?
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day.
The watchdog makes sure people get the best from their broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as keeping an eye on TV and radio.
Ofcom deals with most content on television, radio and video-on-demand services, including the BBC. However, if your complaint is about something you saw or heard in a BBC programme, you may need to complain to the BBC first.
Its rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
The rules in the Broadcasting Code also apply to the BBC iPlayer.
This Broadcasting Code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including; protecting the under-18s, protecting audiences from harmful and/or offensive material and ensuring that news, in whatever form, is reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality.
Audiences can complain to Ofcom if they believe a breach of the Broadcasting Code has been made.
Every time Ofcom receives a complaint from a viewer or listener, they assess it to see if it needs further investigation.
If Ofcom decide to investigate, they will include the case in a list of new investigations, published in the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin.
An investigation is a formal process which can take some time depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
Ofcom can also launch investigations in the absence of a complaint from a viewer or listener.