Does The Biggest Loser Promote Healthy Weight Loss?
I thought we might pass this along on dietivity, since so many of us are familiar with the show The Biggest Loser.
In her latest interview featured on the blog bodylovewellness.com, Kai Hibbard, The Biggest Loser finalist from Season 3, not only claims that the show gave her an eating disorder but also that producers dehumanized the contestants, distorted their weight loss results, forced them to exercise when injured, and denied them the right to consult with qualified nutritionists, among other things. But is this really the whole picture? Should we dismiss the whole program for one disgruntled contestant, who is now selling diet pills? (source: http://kaisdiet.com/)
“I think when I was on the actual ranch we were eating between 1,000 and 1,200 calories a day, I’m not certain. The thing is, it got worse when I got home. . . . I would get e-mails constantly from the producers: ‘what have you done today?’ ‘are you working out enough?’ It was just always, always, always. At that point, [I had] all the pressure on me, and [I was] trying to do right by what I had been told is the best thing to ever happen to me. And they would tell you all the time, ‘200,000 other fat girls were in line right behind you. How dare you waste this experience? How dare you let anybody down?’
“So I got to a point where I was only eating about 1,000 calories a day and I was working out between 5 and 8 hours a day. . . . And my hair started to fall out. I was covered in bruises. I had dark circles under my eyes. Not to get too completely graphic, but my period stopped altogether and I was only sleeping 3 hours a night. I tried to tell the T.V. show about it and I was told, ’save it for the camera.”
Even if we don’t personally follow it, we all know someone who’s trying the diet plan, tackling the videos, or who simply finds inspiration in the struggles of other regular people confronting their weight loss issues.
Let’s face it: Achieving lasting change through diet and exercise is daunting, but watching the contestants on The Biggest Loser reassures us that it’s possible, despite all the drama and controversy that naturally accompanies the reality-tv format.
Despite what some people seem to want us to believe, being extremely overweight is not comfortable or healthy for many of us.
Sure, there are a few who are quite happy and live well being large – more power to them! But when it comes to the prospect of chronic, debilitating illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, then being too heavy is a legitimate concern. Same thing when it comes to simply wanting to enjoy playing with our kids, or just being able to feel comfortable in our own bodies and not getting winded after one flight of stairs. It’s the desire for successful weight loss and a healthy body, not a beautiful body, that drives the popularity of The Biggest Loser.
As for Kai’s allegations…
Why, haven’t any other contestants spoken out? After nine seasons, Kai shouldn’t be the only one that was subjected to all of that abuse, dehumanization, and lack of proper medical monitoring/care.
She is trying to sell diet pills. This was a question that the interviewer failed to ask, and it is a legitimate one.
It’s just common sense that the time span for weight loss in the show will seem distorted. It’s in a condensed format that is meant for TV, and hopefully most people already realize this.
Lastly, it shouldn’t be surprising that contestants lost water-weight – they are in a competition…
..Unlike the rest of us who watch the show, or follow along with The Biggest Loser diet plans and videos. Our situation is completely different – it’s a battle with our own weight loss issues, not an olympic-scale endeavor in front of cameras. While the dehumanization that Kai describes is wrong and her eating disorder is tragic, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the contestants share her perspective, or that we will fall into the same situation as she did.
Weight loss is not merely an issue of vanity or fitting into society’s norms, especially in the US, where over half of us are overweight – we already “fit” in! It’s an issue of living a long, healthy, and active life! If The Biggest Loser inspires us to make those healthy changes, then that’s a good thing. As with everything on tv, we just ought to put it into context.
The Biggest Loser Cookbook