After chatting with a co-worker about the Biggest Loser today, it reminded me of how concerned I am about this show. A former Biggest Loser, Jeremy Britt, presented at the Living Well Grand Rapids event this past weekend. Although The Biggest Loser may bring about motivation for some people, I don’t watch this show for several reasons.
Safety & Professional Ethics
First of all, the show portrays exercise as something that is excruciating, not enjoyable. I don’t think I need to say anything more beyond that. As a professional whose ultimate goal is to improve the quality of others’ lives, my first and foremost concern is the safety of the individual I am working with. I realize the show needs ratings, but, at whose expense? I have had limited exposure to the show itself. I watched it here and there several years ago, but one episode in particular turned me off to the show completely. I was watching because my nephew said he was going to be in it. They were visiting his high school because one of the contestants that season was a classmate of his. I believe it was in the same episode that I remember witnessing them showing an older adult lose consciousness on a bike. That was it for me. I’m sure the drama was every producers dream come true, but all I could think of was how unethical it was. From the little bit I watched, there were several professional recommendations and guidelines that were being totally ignored, and I just couldn’t watch it anymore.
Media & The Obesity Epidemic
The issue of obesity in this country is extremely complex. Many people believe it is simply a matter of people just being lazy and causing the problem themselves. This is true for some people. But for many, the reasons are much more complicated. A recent study published by researchers at Bowling Green State University, illustrated that “anti-fat” attitudes increase after exposure to weight-loss reality television. Another article published by J.H. Yoo at the University of Missouri-St. Louis titled, “No Clear Winner: Effects of The Biggest Loser on the Stigmatization of Obese Persons.” reinforced these findings. I worry that this show minimizes the scope of the obesity epidemic, leading people to believe that it can be solved with two easy steps of eating right and exercising. I certainly believe that these two factors are a part of the solution, however, it underestimates the need for systemic change. It does not get to the heart of the American culture, which I believe to be the real culprit. I have discussed this in my The Weight of the Nation and Unnatural Causes artcles.
So, as a professional, where do you stand with this show? I would love to hear if you agree, or disagree, and why.