Unreported World

Forced to Be Fat

Series 36 - Episode 6 Forced to Be Fat



People all over the world use their looks to attract a partner. But in Mauritania, west Africa, for a woman to be desirable to a potential husband she must be fat. In a country devastated by drought, this means very young girls are force-fed by their own mothers.

Reporter Sahar Zand joins two 11-year-olds as they stuff down nearly 10,000 calories a day. Imagine eating 20 cheeseburgers and knowing you still have a big dinner to come.

This virtual gavage causes all sorts of health problems, but many girls go even further, buying potentially dangerous, unregulated drugs such as steroids and antihistamines from the market to help them gain even more weight.


Sahar Zand travels to Mauritania in West Africa to discover how young girls and women are being force-fed up to 10,000 calories a day because, when it comes to marriage, big is deemed beautiful. A food shortage has led many to choose an even riskier way to pile on the pounds, as they take chemicals - sometimes including some that are meant for animal consumption - with tragic consequences. Last in the series.

Cast & Crew

Reporter Sahar Zand
Director Mauricio Gris
Executive Producer Eamonn Matthews
Series Editor Sue Turton