The Good and Bad of "Biggest Loser"

Lightning Fast & Incredible Transformations Can Be Risky
For Participants and Viewers (physically and psychologically)
       Now what could be bad about the extraordinarily successful "The Biggest Loser" you may ask. Yes it is a very emotional and motivating show for a lot of people out there and I think it has done a lot of good overall. It does show that major changes and improvements have to be made for a long time to improve your health and physique. Some people still have the idea that getting in shape will or should happen overnight. It doesn't work like that and it takes real sacrifice to achieve your goals. The contestants on the show put their blood, sweat, and tears into making their lives and bodies better. Many of them are forever improved from their being on the show.

       What people don't always realize is the incredible time commitment these people have to put it in everyday so they can lose so much weight each week. The average healthy weight loss for a person is 1-2 lbs of fat per week and contestants often lose 5-10 times more than that! Sure, most of them are larger and have more weight to lose but it is still a little extreme and borderline (if not clearly) unhealthy. Also, the 1 hour show doesn't go into the 2-4 hours a day of exercise that these people go through, 6 days a week. That is completely unrealistic for the average working class person and again is pretty unhealthy. Taking somebody that is so overweight, unhealthy, and sedentary for so long and then working them out 15-20 hours a week is a great recipe for a heart attack, stroke, orthopedic injury, or other chronic injuries.

I know they have physicians monitoring everything and they are provided with nutrition but it is still quite extreme. Not only that, but when you lose all that weight so quickly and work out that much, you also lose a lot of muscle or at least prevent any significant muscle gain. If you lose muscle mass, then your metabolism will suffer in the long run.

      The other issue that I want you to think about is should we be glorifying and awarding people that work so hard for 6 months to lose a ton of weight after 40 years of being a fat slob? To an extent, I think it is sending the wrong message to people who see that it's ok to completely ignore their health and body for most of their life and then they can reverse it all in 6 months. That isn't the complete story and that isn't what happens to the majority of people. Some of the contestants that did not have the best experience on the show may not be very vocal about it because they signed contracts of silence or the money-train of the Biggest Loser franchise silences their complaints. I guarantee several contestants over the years have been hurt, gotten sick, or ended up gaining all the weight back. While it is still a good show overall, people just need to be aware that losing 12 lbs in a week is not common in the real world and losing 250 lbs in 6 months is ludicrous. Let the show motivate you to improve your own health and physique but don't let it give you delusions quick fixes and miraculous turnarounds.

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