The Biggest Loser Controversy


I don’t watch The Biggest Loser. I think it’s my own experience that pushes me away from the uncomfortable feelings that all the people on the show have. I understand the pain while running on the treadmill and the heart racing that occurs when you step on a scale in front of other people. I get that at that moment the biggest concern is losing the weight and nothing, nothing, seems too be “too much.”

Despite my avoidance of the TV show, I stumbled upon all the controversy surrounding this seasons winner Rachel Frederickson and her new 105 pound body. In the last few days I have seen countless articles and Tweets surrounding her weight loss. She’s too thin, she lost too much weight, what did they make her do? Her BMI lists her as underweight, etc.

The only thing I haven’t seen is “how has this affected her health?”

Weight is a measurement. Unlike most other ways of quantification, the number on the scale often dictates how people live their lives. The number becomes the sole focus in a plethora of so many things that are more important.

People forget that muscle is denser than fat, that women retain water at different times during the month, that BMI is often not an indicator of how much you exercise or how many vegetables you put in your mouth.

While I would agree that Frederickson might be a little small for her height, I am way less concerned about that finishing number–I’m concerned for her health.

Going from 260 pounds to 105 in the season of The Biggest Loser is unhealthy. It’s a radical change: it’s great she was able to accomplish such a big feat but the body is not meant to undergo that type of stress.

The people on that show exercise for 4 hours a day according to an article from Time Magazine in 2009. Jillian Michaels even says “Not only is it not possible, it’s not safe” when the journalist says it’s not realistic for normal people to do that.

I don’t know what the people on the show eat but I’m positive they do not eat enough to sustain all that exercise in order to lose so much weight so fast.

The point is The Biggest Loser may help people shed weight but it ultimately takes unhealthy people (or maybe not even…maybe just overweight) and subjects them to an unhealthy environment where they learn tricks of the trade that are impossible to incorporate into real life.

I wish Frederickson the best with her new body and hope that she can continue to feel happy with herself but I fear for her health, as well as her teammates, as they venture back into a world away from the Biggest Loser ranch and attempt to live.


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