Burger girl

Channel 4 has a long-standing reputation for producing bold and provocative documentaries. And Junk Food Kids: Who’s to Blame? (C4, 10pm, 18 February) was no exception, delivering emotional and riveting TV peppered with sharp jabs of reality amid the cacophony of health-related chatter and pointy fingers.

Credit to the researchers who unearthed a rich cast of characters that inspired both sympathy and shouting at the screen, a heady combination that reminded us cinéma vérité is a genre capable of delivering great swathes of gravitas and pathos.

We were being asked who to blame for obesity and tooth decay in children, though, so amid the drama it was judgement time. And although it was easy to feel for some of the children and harder to feel for others, the overarching message was clear: It’s the parents that have to take responsibility.

To illustrate this we saw several tragic cases of parental failure. One mum alternated between hankering after an easy life and then dissolving into tears (“what’s wrong, mummy?”) at her inability to stop her already obese four-year-old daughter getting bigger while her teeth got worse. And later we saw a little boy hooked on fruit juice being reassured by the anaesthetist that it was “magic sleep day” before having 11 teeth extracted on the operating table, leaving a bloody mouth filled with holes. Afterwards, he wept.

There was much, much more. It was strong stuff. And it is worth watching on 4OD if you missed it.