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One Big Happy Family: Watch this, then let's talk

I'm writing my "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column for January 21 about the TLC reality show "One Big Happy Family," which documents the Cole family's efforts to lose weight. Each of the four Coles (two adults, two teens) weighs more than 300 pounds. The final two episodes of the first, six-part season air tonight, starting at 10 p.m. Here's a clip that gives a glimpse of what the Cole family's up to tonight:

I want to know what you think of the show. Some bloggers have questioned whether it's degrading and exploitive. But it can be argued that the Coles entered the experience willingly and that their good humor carries the day. I worry that the family's not getting adequate guidance in its effort to eat more healthfully and become more fit.

If you're so inclined, please watch the show tonight. Then come back to the comments section of this blog and share your thoughts.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  January 12, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
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I like this show! The first time I saw it i wasn't sure, but I've seen some of the re-runs and then the new one last nite and I am very impressed! I love the way Tameka motivates her children and everyone appears to be onboard with "stepping out of their comfort zones", which is what CHANGE is all about! This family genuinely cares about the success of the whole family! They are a wonderful example of how a family should be! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!

Posted by: ranona71 | January 13, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Last night's two installments left me wondering more than ever not only why I have watched this show, but why it is on the air. It's great that the family is so loving and supportive (though the recent episodes are bringing out more and more Tameka's domination of her husband and his childishness). But so little happens in the show, and there is in fact so little attention given to the "healthy eating" and exercise that's supposedly going on, that it's hard to see more here than an exhibition of rolls and poundage, which the family has, and displays, amply. And if the reason for the dieting and exercise is the threat to young Shayne's health--he is, or nearly is, pre-diabetic--it seems downright irresponsible that the parents are undertaking this apparently self-directed, hit-or-miss approach to healthier living. This boy is in danger of a chronic disease with frightening complications; he should have professional help to avoid that fate.

Posted by: bucephalina | January 13, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I just happened to catch Wednesday's episode at the point the mother and daughter are shopping for clothes. The Cole's certainly provides more personal motivation to keep working out. Growing up in the 70's/80's there was a stigma to being overweight unlike now. I don't know that it is necessarily a good thing to be so accepting of larger sizes. What good does that do for people?

Posted by: flabbergast | January 15, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I've watched the show and think it's great. It was featured on Larry King recently and also last night on CNN with the Mother and Daughter. One viewer e mailed that is was a 'tragedy waiting to unfold'. This ingnorant viewpoint enraged me, since the real tragedy would unfold whether this family was on TV or not and DIDN'T change their lifestyle. I say more power to them for having the courage to share their story. Not only are they making themselves vulnerable to scrutiny and criticism, but risking the 'curse' of reality TV. If they can stay focused on the prize, which is overall health and wellness, and not fall into the craziness that comes along with the TLC spotlight, they will be fine !! Anyone who doesn't support their efforts is ignorant or living under a rock. Obesity is an American epidemic that needs to be revealed for what it is. It's not about dieting and it goes far deeper than lazy people just eating too much. It has socio-economic, psychiatric, cultural and many other facets that all contribute to a very complex problem. If looking at obese people is uncomfortable and not glamourous enough for people, they need to get real. Go to a mall, go to a local dining establishment, go to the airport. Two thirds of Americans are obese ! I wish the Cole family all the luck in the world and hope that they stay on track. Hopefully the attention they are generating will result in the support and resources they need to be successful- If not,this family appears to have all the strength,love and gumption it takes to do it the old fashioned way.

Posted by: kcostello1 | January 15, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the show. I do think some of the editing is exploitative, but that's the reality of American television. I think the parents went in knowing what they were getting into, and from a press clip I heard from Shayne, it sounds like they know how they are being portrayed.

This is a TV show following a family, NOT a show trying to HELP them. I think a lot of people are confusing the two. This family knows that they are going it alone, like almost all other families in this country trying to shape a healthier lifestyle.

If the producers were to hire someone to help them, it would change the tempo of the show. Who couldn't lose weight with hired help? I want to see ORDINARY people fighting the good fight. Yes, Shayne may be pre-diabetic, but from the meals they are choosing to show the family eating, they are on the right course. I am a Type 2, I have my sugars very well under control, and didn't need a team of professionals to show me that eating sugar and loads of carbs was bad for me.

I applaud this family for putting it out there, and going it alone. Their camaraderie, support, and good humor serve them well, and I hope they succeed in losing weight...and cash in on our obsession with "reality" tv...good for them!

Posted by: Jocelyn21401 | January 15, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I love this show. It is so much more realistic than Biggest Loser. They show what really happens when a real family without money, trainers, special foods try to lose weight. The show where they found out that fresh healthy foods are costly, well folks, its real. A 5lb bag of potatoes is a lot cheaper than 5lbs of fresh veggies. If you've never exercised before, sure you get hurt. Everything about this show is so realistic as my family also struggles from the very same issues. I was so inspired by them, I got my family on board using their principles. I can't wait for the new shows. Even the Ruby show is unrealistic, not every overweight person or family can have the luxury of pre-packaged foods, gym memberships, so I like how this family keeps it real.

Posted by: kre8ive2 | January 19, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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