Starving Secrets on Lifetime Channel is Tracy Golds’ new TV show and a positive development for awareness and treatment of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Actress Tracey Gold will be sharing her experience with anorexia and bulimia as the host and producer of a new reality series called Starving Secrets. The unscripted show, which premiers on Lifetime on December 2, could be the source of controversy since it will focus on a very private health issue. The show is produced by GRB Entertainment, the makers of an A&E reality show called Intervention.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 8 to 10 percent of American women are affected during their lifetime by anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. The NIMH also reports that 10 to 25 percent of these women will die from their disorder.
As a child star, Tracey Gold developed issues with eating at age 11. Her problem escalated while she was a member of the cast of the popular 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, where her character was often the brunt of jokes about weight (even though Tracey was not seriously overweight). By the time she was 19 she had developed a dangerous eating disorder that caused her weight to drop from a high of 133 pounds to just 80 pounds. She nearly lost her life before checking into a treatment center for eating disorders and learning to live in recovery in the mid-1990s.
Starving Secrets will follow a group of women aged 19 to 43 who travel to Los Angeles for intensive treatment for an eating disorder. Gold and a camera crew will visit each woman every few weeks and chart her progress towards recovery. As one of the first celebrities to go public with an eating disorder, Gold understands what it’s like to attempt recovery in the public eye. Gold claims that recovering from her disorder was aided by the knowledge that she had public support. In an interview with Ramin Setooodeh of The Daily Beast, she expressed hope that the women appearing in Starving Secrets will also be helped by the support of the show’s audience.
Although many reality shows are exploitive, some (like The Biggest Loser) have helped their participants while educating their audience about treatment for psychological and physical problems. Tracey Gold will be working with a team of specialists to help the women on Starving Secrets confront and overcome their eating disorders. If handled correctly, the show could help expose the seriousness of eating disorders and show that that there is hope for recovery through treatment. According to Gold, future episodes may also focus on men who suffer from eating disorders. A 2007 study found the 1 in 4 people with an eating disorder is male.