Monday, May 11, 2009

Why “The Biggest Loser”
is Such a Loser Show

NBC’s Biggest Loser finale is about to air tomorrow. This is one TV viewer who refuses to watch!

Like the majority of women in America, I’m constantly watching my weight. Perhaps it’s that northern European, famine-surviving, sturdy stock running through my genes, or maybe mom simply fed me way, way too much formula as a kid to keep me quiet. Whatever the reason, staying thin is a constant battle. So, when NBC decided to air the show “The Biggest Loser” in 2004, where 12 men and women compete to lose weight, I tuned in to witness the heart warming successes and cheer on the contestants.

However, by the end of Season 1, it was clear that the deck was stacked against the women:

  1. Scientifically, it’s much easier for men to lose weight than women because women have significantly lower metabolisms.
  2. Mathematically, men can eat more calories per day than women. However, to lose a pound, both have to cut or burn the same 3500 calories from their regular diet. Since men eat more, they can cut more per day and lose weight faster.
  3. Medically, one out of every 10 women suffers from inherited hormonal disorders which cause obesity and make it nearly impossible to lose weight.
  4. Casting – The producers cast thinner women than men on average. It’s no secret that the more out of shape and overweight you are, the faster you will lose weight once you start a weight loss plan.

Other aspects of the show have bothered me. Why should contestants be eliminated each week? Shouldn’t they all continue to receive great training and supervision until the end and then get weighed and measured? Shouldn’t they all win the same great prizes just for sticking with the program and bearing their bodies and souls on national TV.

Despite more recent attempts in the latest seasons to even the playing field by considering body mass index; percentages; body fat losses; and even pitting families and couples against each other; it’s still a loser show to me. I’ll consider watching it again if it’s women vs. women and contestants are not eliminated. (That’s not to say someone shouldn't be ejected for bad behavior.)

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