Operation Transformation: Setting A Healthy Example

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The journeys of five ordinary, yet inspirational, leaders as they journey towards healthier and happier lives. Under the instruction of a team of professionals including fitness guru Karl Henry, medical doctor Dr Eva Orsmond, and clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy, the leaders must undergo a strict dietary and fitness regime which will help them achieve their target weight. The overall goal of Operation Transformation is to build a slimmer, fitter, healthier nation.

According to Jacky Jones, former regional manager of health promotion at the HSE, over 300,000 young people in Ireland are now overweight or obese. This is a worrying trend as regards the future of Irish society. Schools are blamed for having vending machines which sell nutrient-poor, high-calorie foods, and for not doing enough to promote a healthy lifestyle through education. However, this ignores the fact that children often mimic the actions of their parents and peers and may develop unhealthy eating patterns in this way. Despite the economic climate, parents can and ought to provide their children with healthy food, which need not be expensive. The difference in the long run between eating dinners with brown rice instead of dinners with another helping of deep-fried chips may be the child living seven years longer.

Kayleigh Yeoman, aged 18, is the youngest ever Operation Transformation leader and is all too familiar with the issue of youth obesity, herself formerly a frequent vending-machine customer and visitor of her local fast-food restaurant. Her pledge to change her own lifestyle, and subsequently the lives of many of her followers, is an effort to undo more than just this past fortnight’s Christmas indulgence. Kayleigh, along with the four other series five leaders, Natalie Cox (24), Adrian Brereton (41), Killian Byrne (39), and Grace Batterberry (32), will appear on the show over the next eight weeks when their weekly weigh-ins, a measure of their progress, will be aired. It may be a gruelling experience for the leaders to have their change of life documented for television, but all the leaders hope to provide an example to ordinary viewers who feel they would benefit from similar changes.

Viewers can choose to follow the leader they feel best suits themselves and their requirements, and have access to their daily dietary plans, exercise schedules and even shopping lists, online here. Progress will be charted on Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as the John Murray radio show, broadcast 9-10 am every weekday morning on RTÉ Radio One. The television programme airs every Wednesday evening from 8-9pm on RTÉ1, and is subsequently available on the RTÉ Player.

As well as having the opportunity to follow the same regimes as the leaders in the programme, viewers are also urged to become involved in events being organised around the country in a bid to get the nation thinking about their health for the new year. The first of these events are the National Walks on Saturday January 14th, of which at least one is being held in every county in the Republic. Leaders and OT experts will help members of the public take the first step towards a healthier life. For those looking for something a little more challenging, a national 5km Fun Run will take place in the Phoenix Park on Saturday February 18th. This event will also be televised for the show.

This year’s series of OT also hope to raise awareness of Type 2 diabetes, which affects 5% of the population, those overweight being most at risk. A National Screening Day for the disease will take place around the country on Thursday January 19th.  The IMO will provide medical doctors at nine venues who will perform free tests.Obesity is an unfortunate reality of today’s world and should not be ignored. Obese people are three times more likely to develop diabetes, three times more likely to have a stroke, and three times more likely to suffer a heart attack, compared to people with a healthy Body Mass Index.  A healthy lifestyle is about doing things in moderation. It’s not that we should never be allowed enter another fast-food outlet or enjoy a chocolate bar, but rather that these should be treats consumed on an infrequent basis, and they should be counter-acted with activity.

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