It seems like everywhere you look these days big is in!

Dance Your Ass Off is a smash on Oxygen while The Biggest Loser continues to rank as NBC’s most valuable franchise. Over on TLC there’s One Big Happy Family – a docu-soap about an overweight North Carolina family while Style’s Ruby follows an obese woman’s weight loss journey.

On the drama front there’s Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime, following a skinny blonde girl resurrected as a plus size lawyer and now there’s Huge on ABC Family, a series set at a camp for overweight teens. Come the Fall we’ll be seeing Mike and Molly, a CBS comedy about a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Sure you probably won’t be seeing too many fuller figures on The CW, but elsewhere the message is clear – America’s body shape is changing – in real life, and now on the not-so-small screen.

For many this is a good thing. I recently read an article in Entertainment Weekly in which the National Association For Fat Acceptance applauded the increase of plus size figures on our TV’s. But personally, I’m not so sure it is…

Now first of all let me lay out my stall here. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes and TV absolutely should reflect this. I’m as tired as the next person of the endless hunks and babes that make up many reality shows and drama series. And as a gay man I don’t want to see any section of society persecuted or treated as second-class citizens (cause trust me – it sucks!)

But I also don’t think that America (and the world’s) increased waistlines are something we should be taking lightly. As we’re all only too aware obesity in America is an immense problem. 65% of Americans are currently overweight or obese. That’s 2 out of 3 people living in this country. No matter how you look at it – that’s insane.

And let’s be honest here – a large portion of overweight people in America got that way from watching TV for hours and hours each week, snacking in front of their screens and buying into adverts for fast foods and takeaway pizza. TV helped create this problem. But I don’t think throwing up our hands and giving up is the solution. The more obese characters we feature on TV the more recognized and accepted it will be (just as TV has been a great instrument of social change and acceptance for African Americans, women and yep, gays and lesbians). It’s like airlines creating extra large seats to fit America’s increased waist sizes – we’re ‘accepting’ the problem instead of trying to fix it.

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I don’t like using the word ‘problem’ when referring to weight – but unfortunately that’s what it is. We all know we put on weight through bad diets and lack of exercise. It ain’t rocket science! I’m in shape but you know what – I work really hard at it – I exercise 4 or 5 times a week and try and eat carefully (though it’s really tough when production is in full swing). Honestly my life would be a lot easier if I ate badly and didn’t work out – but I know my health and energy levels would likely suffer as a result… so each morning I hit that gym!

I don’t buy many of the excuses people use for not being in shape – bad genes, big bones, too busy – and I honestly think gastric bypass surgery is cheating (yep Randy Jackson that means you).  And yes, as we all know from The Biggest Loser, a lot of people’s weight issues are caused by past traumas and tangled personal lives – but I believe that part of being an adult is taking responsibility for ourselves and dealing with our past problems. If you’re over 300lbs you have a problem. And I’m not sure that it’s TV’s job to reassure you that you don’t. Just because lots of other people are overweight it doesn’t mean its okay. And unfortunately that’s the message I worry some of these shows are giving out…

But what do you think? Am I being too harsh here? Should we be seeing MORE overweight and obese characters on TV – or less? And should we treat ‘obesity’ as a problem to be cured – or simply as a fact of life… I’d love to hear your thoughts… Fire away!