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Do You Think 'The Biggest Loser' Is Exploitative?

Do You Think 'The Biggest Loser' Is Exploitative?
December 8, 2009 Patrick Nemechek, D.O.

I do!

I’ve watched the show the ‘The Biggest Loser’ a few times and come away each time with the same thought, “This is the most dangerous, manipulative show I’ve ever seen on television.”

Medically speaking, to encourage individuals to lose weight at these tremendous rates is very unhealthy and extremely dangerous.Ā  Weight loss experts often advise against losing more than 1-2 lbs of body weight per week. This is equal to reducing one’s average weekly caloric intake by 3,000-7,000 calories per week.Ā  That’s enough food to feed 4-8 people at dinner!

Cutting out too many calories leads to a variety of metabolic and psychological stressors that can result in extreme levels of muscle and organ protein loss, malnutrition as well as kidney, liver or heart dysfunction. From a behavior modification-psycholgical perspective, rapid weight loss is one of the highest risk factors for rapid weight increases after attempting weight reduction.

The other problem with the show is the excessive reliance on exercise as a means to accelerate weight loss.Ā  As I’ve posted before, exercise is not an effective method of weight loss for the average person. Exercise is excellent for weight maintenance, cardiovascular fitness and mental health but has been shown to result in slowing the rate of weight loss as the intensity of exercise increases.Ā  I’m sorry to say it, but it’s true!

So my advice is slow down!Ā  We didn’t put this weight on quickly, and learning to change our behaviors and develop a new level of understanding and appreciation for carbohydrate and weight reduction is a medthodical, 3-steps forward and 1-2 steps backward process.

Shows like “The Biggest Loser” only serve to undermine the health of the contestants as well as the viewing public.

3 Comments

  1. Susan Craig 11 years ago

    I agree, I don’t even watch that show. I have one of the cookbooks of theirs, and let me tell you…yes you would have to exercise a lot to cover the calories of the meal plans…Not realistic for most people!

  2. Yasheka W 11 years ago

    Absolutely agree with you , Dr. N. I think each season it’s getting more dangerous, plus I think it shows an unrealistic approach to losing weight – your average person of this size won’t be able to afford the time, energy, consultation, etc to do what these people are doing in such a short amount of time. Thanks for posting.

  3. Philip Brooks 11 years ago

    It would seem that it is safe to say that what makes good TV in “reality”-based or self-help programming usually does not mirror what is desirable or safe in real life. Much like Dr. Phil in no way represents good therapy and probably in the end leaves people more harmed than helped, the Biggest Loser may also exploit and eventually leave people in a worse-off position once the cameras are long gone.

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