An article in the Wednesday November 25th edition of the New York Times, titled “In Reality Show, Health Can Be Lost in Frenzy,” reveals what responsible fitness professionals have said for years, in that the television show, “The Biggest Loser” can be bad for your health and is hardly “reality.”
The New York Times front page story is a good first step in peeling away the first layer of BS and secrecy that surrounds this purported healthy lifestyle reality show. The story starts off telling us about season one “winner” Ryan Benson who lost 122 of his 330-pounds, only to gain it all back once the show ended.
As a result of Benson’s public comments that he resorted to fasting and dehydration – a practice apparently commonplace among the show’s contestants – he has been ignored by the show. Benson and other anonymous contestants tell a story of marathon exercise sessions, exercising while wearing excessive clothing, purposeful pre-weigh in dehydration and severe caloric restriction.
These extreme behaviors have caused contestants to lose more than 15-pounds in a week, results and behaviors that are anything but healthy. Most contestants speak anonymously because of releases that subject contestants to severe financial fines of up to one million dollars for speaking to reporters without the show’s consent.
Speaking of releases, according to the Times story contestants sign a release that says, “no warranty, representation or guarantee has been made as to the qualifications or credentials of the medical professionals who examine me or perform any procedures on me in connection with my participation in the series, or their ability to diagnose medical conditions that may affect my fitness to participate in the series.”
Keep in mind that this year’s show features some the heaviest contestants to appear. There are five contestants over 400-pounds this season, and they all have signed a document that certifies they are in, “excellent physical, emotional and psychological and mental health.”
It’s no wonder that during the first episode of this season’s first show two contestants were sent to the hospital for heat stroke after collapsing during a one-mile race. And it’s no surprise that the release signed by the contestants makes no guarantees about the qualifications of the medical professionals connected with the show.
In response to this disgrace the show’s medical consultant said, “If we had to do it over, we wouldn’t do it. It was an unexpected complication and we’re going to do better.” Unexpected complication? Taking morbidly obese, out-of-shape people and having them run a mile is stupidity, neglect and exploitation at its worst. Does any rational person accept that the problems encountered by these people are unexpected and can be classified as a complication?
The medical advice given to the producers of, “The Biggest Loser” is a bad as the guidance provided by their so-called fitness experts. There’s too much info in this New York Times story to include in just one post, so check back for more in the next few days.