At this month's American Public Health Association meeting, Natalie Ingraham, MPH, of the University of California San Francisco told attendees that the Biggest Loser sends patients an unhealthy and unrealistic message about weight loss. I am a huge fan of BL, I watch religiously every week. For me it really is about the opportunity the contestants have to change their life and health for the better. I study the workouts the trainers have them doing, making note of things I want to try. I get excited when I watch the pounds come off and angry when they don't. Sometimes I find myself screaming at the TV, "ALL YOU DO ALL DAY IS WORKOUT. HOW DO YOU GAIN WEIGHT?"
So Ingraham's assertion makes sense, in the real world it would unrealistic for me to tell someone trying to lose weight that less than 5 lbs a week is a failure. This is a reality TV competition though, one in which the "biggest loser" wins money.
Another early result was that the show rarely focuses on healthy eating habits...this is true, but honestly those portions are littered with product promotion. And this IS television, who wants to watch people sit around eating?
A lot of BL is done for shock level. That is why you see their "real age" and why they create this challenges. It is for our entertainment as much as it is for these contestants weight loss journey.
I have to admit though, just this week I commented that this season's contestants are expected to run a marathon at the end of the competition...have we seen them training at all? No, we haven't. (I think I am just sensitive since I know how hard it is to train for a marathon.)
Igraham will be analyzing more seasons and episodes, taking a look at a statistical analysis of weight loss results and a content analysis of remarks made by trainers and contestants during the show. Totally bias here, but the trainers do the best they can to motivate contestants by pushing, challenging and tapping into their emotional sides. So my guess, there are going to be some words used there that she doesn't approve of. (Ingraham is an advocate for Healthy At Every Size and was part of a panel that spoke out against the words "overweight" and "obesity.")
I think BL motivates people to pay attention to their lifestyle and make changes for the better. Obviously, you can't expect to see the results contestants have unless of course you do not have a full time job, workout all day with a trainer and have someone guiding you in how to cook your food.