Overweight Britons who travelled the world on a quest to lose weight for a new Channel 4 series have revealed that they were pointed to and laughed at in the streets of Japan.

Around the World in 80 Weighs follows six people from across Britain who are each living with obesity as they travel across continents to learn about the obesity crisis in different countries.

The contestants set out to discover the implications of their own health and to meet people in each country who might be able to help them lead healthier lives and lose weight along the way.

In the first episode, the group travels to Japan – a country with low rates of obesity and a culture of shame towards the problem.

Upon arrival, contestants felt ‘self-conscious’ and uncomfortable after locals stared and laughed at them.

Participants Marisa and Russell (pictured), from the UK, joined Channel 4’s show Around the World in Eighty Weighs in a bid to lose weight

Today, only four percent of the Japanese public are obese compared to 25 percent of Britons, according to the documentary.

So, when participants travelled to the East Asian country, they found themselves being stared at.

‘I don’t feel like I should be here,’ a contestant called Marisa said.

She added: ‘In this country I don’t feel comfortable, and for me personally, it isn’t somewhere I would come back.’

Another contestant called Tiffany said: ‘I’m starting to feel a bit self-conscious, as we’re walking, everybody’s staring.’

Later in the trip, the group also partook in a Japanese practice called Rajio Taiso.

To help combat obesity, the Japanese government broadcasts an exercise class called Rajio Taiso every morning, and it’s the law that workers across the country pause to work out together.

In 2008, Western eating habits sparked a rise in obesity in Japan, and the government introduced a law making the employees responsible for monitoring waistlines.

Therryi-Jay (pictured left) joined  Marisa and Russell and travelled across continents to learn about different cultures and their eating habits
The series kicks off in Japan, where the contestants meet Mr and Mrs Eats (far right). Pictured left to right is participants Susan, Russell, Tiffany, Therryi-Jay, Phil, and Marisa

Individuals are measured at work and waistlines should be no more than 85cm for males and 90cm for females. 

It comes after This Morning hosts Josie Gibson, 38, and Dermot O’Leary welcomed three of the participants on the show earlier today to discuss the eye-opening experience – and the culture that shocked them the most. 

Among the participants are Russell and Marisa, a married couple who have known each other from the age of four – and are equally desperate to lose weight so they can have children.

Sue also appeared on today’s show – a woman whose experience with obesity has stopped her from living life to its full potential.

Chatting to the hosts, the group revealed the monumental impact that the show has had on their health, general happiness, and waistlines. 

Married couple Marisa (pictured left) and Russell (pictured right) joined the show in a bid to lose weight

‘Across the globe more than one billion adults are obese – 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents and 39 million children, and the number is increasing,’ Josie revealed.

That’s why Channel 4 took a group of individuals grappling with obesity travelling to, so they could discover why the rate is so high and how other countries handle the problem.

Participants also strive to lose weight throughout the show – a longstanding reality for contestants Marissa and Russ.

‘I think for me and Russ, we struggled with our weights since we were quite young. We tried lots of fad diets… but things didn’t work, and we’d always fall of the wagon,’ Marisa said.

Russell added: We got into a cycle of being good during the week, and at the weekend, we’d go rogue and eat anything.’

‘When this opportunity came up, we just couldn’t say no. We both want to have children one day; we just want to be the best versions of ourselves, not just for that but for us,’ Marisa added.

Around the World in Eighty Weighs follows six contestants (pictured) as they travel across continents to learn about food habits in different cultures
Sue’s (pictured) obesity stopped her from living life to the full – and sometimes even leaving the house at all

For Sue, her weight loss journey was all about retrieving her confidence. She said: ‘I lost my confidence being overweight, I didn’t have a 50th birthday party, there was no way I was going to do that.

She added: ‘Some days I didn’t go out, I’d get dressed up and go to the back door, and I couldn’t go. I couldn’t even take my dog for a walk.’

In the first episode of the series, participants travelled to Japan to learn about their eating habits.

Upon arrival, they chatted with a woman who revealed it was her first time seeing ‘bigger people’ in the flesh.

The difference also served as a culture shock for the participants. ‘It’s very strict. They only eat with chopsticks, and they only eat until they’re 80 per cent full,’ Marisa said.

As a child, Marisa had to eat everything off her plate to get dessert. But in Japan, the script is flipped.

She said: ‘The Japanese culture is very different, you don’t have to eat all your food, you’re fine to leave it.’

Since the start of the series, Sue has managed to shed four stones and feels much happier and healthier

Russell was most shocked to see a Japanese business measuring employees’ waistlines and incorporating an exercise class into the workday.

The government broadcasts an exercise class called Rajio Taiso, and every morning, it’s the law that workers across the country pause to work out together. 

‘The office just stopped, and they get up and they all do an exercise class together, and then as soon as it’s finished, they literally go back to work,’ Russell said.

He added: ‘As part of the business, they have health checks, and they have to make sure staff are healthy … and if they weren’t as healthy it might inflict on them in some way in the workplace… it was really shocking that they go to work to get their waist measured.’

The group also met a man who was ‘sentenced’ by his employer to walk 10 thousand steps a day to improve his fitness.

‘You could easily be insulted,’ Dermot said, to which the group unanimously agreed that they were.

Despite a slew of surprising encounters, the experience proved to invaluable for each of the participants.

Sue, who has lost four stones since the start of the experience said: ‘I’m so glad I took part in it, it literally changed my life.

‘I feel 20 years younger, I have so much energy. I’ve taken a lot of it from Japan, and I have a lot of fermented food… I will eat that sort of food twice a day. ‘

Russell and Marisa on the other hand have lost a combined total of seven stones.

‘I’m diabetic and my medicines have been halved, I feel healthier, I feel fitter, I feel more willing to do things, whereas before I would just make an excuse,’ Russell said.

Around The World In 80 Weighs, Tuesdays on Channel 4, 9pm.

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