Reporter Roger Bingham is becoming TV's main emcee of cute science, never passing up an opportunity to dress up a difficult idea with a visual joke or a groaner pun. Even before "Fat City," his report on all things overweight, begins tonight (7:30, KCET Channel 28), we can feel the approaching attack of the puns.
And sooner than you can say spare tire , Bingham is walking in a tire yard to accent a remark about middle-aged paunch. But he also inserts himself into the jokes: In order to show how our primordial craving for once-scarce fat, sugar and salt has boomeranged on us, Bingham trudges across a patch of wilderness with a shopping cart.
As jokes go, however, this bit of bio-historical turnabout is one of the cruelest. "Fat City" goes to surprisingly complex lengths to show how a successful fight against fat has to be based on knowing the body and its limits.
There is no easy way out of Fat City, argues Bingham, with support from biologists Janice Fisler, Paul Saltman and Philip Kern, because of metabolism and a genetic impulse for fats and sweets that's situated in the blood stream and the brain. Some new drugs that quicken the metabolic rate or suppress appetite hold some hope for the obese, but forget about a "thin drug." The answer is not news, but bears repeating: Exercise to burn calories and build muscles in tandem with lowering caloric intake.
In other words, dump the ice cream down the drain, take a vigorous walk and pray that KCET continues letting Bingham explain it all for us.