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Is NBC's 'Biggest Loser' pushing contestants too hard?


Biggest Loser season 8 photo by:rockymountainhigh

It's the big show, with the big reputation.  NBC's The Biggest Loser focuses on clinically obese contestants competing to lose large amounts of weight for a large amount of money.  Host Alison Sweeney cheers on the competitors while star trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels put them to work.  The contestant who loses the highest percentage of weight becomes the winner of $250,000. 

Biggest Loser gets big results.  The show has boasted transformations of contestants weighing in at staggering amounts.  The heaviest contestants have weighed in at anywhere from 450 lbs to an astonishing 526 pounds.  While the show focuses on healthy living, exercise, and wellness, experts wonder if the show pushes it's obese contestants too hard and too fast.  With the show's contestants entering the competition with obesity related health issues and long-time sedentary lifestyles, there are reasons to be concerned about their rapid weight loss and extreme training regimen.  

Sweeney, Harper, and Michaels (rockymountainhigh)

As reported by MSNBC, Biggest Loser has hit several weight loss benchmarks that bring cause for concern to health officials.  Extreme rapid weight loss records such as 34 pounds lost in one week or 100 pounds lost in 7 weeks could pose dangerous health risks to contestants.  Those numbers are far removed from the safe recommended weight loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. 

Along with the staggering speed of which contestants lose large amounts of weight, the show highlights a workout regimen of 5-6 hours daily.  Experts find that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily is proven to be beneficial enough to reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and yes, lose weight.  As people get healthier and fitter, increasing exercise can achieve even more benefits.  But going from a sedentary lifestyle to 5-6 hours of exercise each day could put a lot of stress on one's body and can cause injury, exhaustion, or worse.  In fact, in the past two Biggest Loser seasons, several contestants were either treated for exhaustion or hospitalized. 

49 states have 20% or higher obese rate (Tobyotter)

However, there are also dangers to remaining clinically obese.  Obesity or having a body mass index over 30 can cause heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even promote certain types of cancer.  The Biggest Loser also keeps it's contestants under medical supervision and the medical staff was quick to intervene in all cases where contestants were in need of medical care. 

The rapid weight loss seen on The Biggest Loser would be tough to duplicate by viewers at home.  The contestants are removed from their unhealthy lives, given top personal trainers, and undergo rapid weight loss to stay in the competition.  But, experts encourage obese and overweight individuals to achieve safe weight loss and regular exercise habits despite what they see on television.  You don't have to be the Biggest Loser to win a healthier weight and lifestyle. 

Living in the Metro Detroit area and interested in being on the show The Biggest Loser?  There will be a Detroit casting call for the show on March 13th.  The casting call will be at Gardner White Furniture store in Macomb on Hayes Rd. from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. 


  • Willi Gutmann 5 years ago

    The human body is amazingly resilient, more so than most people realize. Rewiring the brain to say "I can" is the tougher task.

    Detroit Kayaking Examiner (under the recreation tab)

  • Susan Kaul - Detroit Infectious Disease Examiner 5 years ago

    It is unrealistic to think this is the normal way to lose weight and you worry that people watching the show is going to try to do something like this without medical assistance.

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