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Is reality TV weight loss actual reality?

I am a diehard fan of “The Biggest Loser,” have taken to watching “I Used to Be Fat” and on occasion catch “Heavy.” I tend to be more motivated if I watch these before my workout or the day before, which many experts see as a positive across the board. However, some experts see these programs as an unhealthy influence. They are concerned the shows’ emphasis on body image can encourage eating disorders and other dangerous behaviors.

Lynn Grefe, chief executive of the National Eating Disorders Association, believes the attitude that everyone needs to lose weight is questionable. “There are people who are heavy, but remain healthier than people who are slim or who are ‘yo-yo’ dieters. Weight is an individual thing and weight loss is not the best option—or even necessary—for everyone.”

She feels that in order to be healthy it has to focus on lifestyle changes, especially because 95% of the people who diet will regain their weight within five years.

On the other hand, contestants on The Biggest Loser have really involved trainers and a team that emphasizes more than just dieting but also maintaining a healthful lifestyle and educating people. They push them to exercise, they have chefs teach them tricks (I learned this one a few weeks ago) and make it clear that the team is overseeing their weight loss.

So is TV weight loss reality? Losing 30 lbs in one week can result in heart problems, bone loss and electrolyte imbalances, but what non-contestant can even do that? If you are watching these shows you have to know that as a normal person work and life will get in the way. Or at least I hope they do.

So what is your opinion? Do these shows help or harm viewers?


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