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The Biggest Losers – why extreme weight loss shows need to stop

From: Balanced,

10
February
2014
The Biggest Losers – why extreme weight loss shows need to stop

This week, Twitter has been awash with concerns about the winner of the popular US show The Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson, and her extreme weight loss.

Rachel began the show at 260 pounds (18st 5) and this week at the finale she weighed in at a staggering 105 pounds (7st 5). At 5’4, this is seriously tiny!

I do not like shows like the Biggest Loser. I do like what they represent.

I do not like what they are telling us; that weight loss is everything and it doesn’t matter how you do it – whether its spending all day exercising, working out when you’re injured or dehydrating yourself before weigh ins – as long as you get skinny you will be successful.

Erm, hang on a minute, what about the contestants' health? What is this doing to their bodies? Season 3 Biggest Loser finalist, Kai Hibbard, told Jezebel she ended up with an eating disorder after the show from the pressure the producers put on her to get thin and stay thin.

Extreme low calorie diets (1,000 cal or less per day) partnered with intense exercise are extremely stressful on the body and can cause hair loss, fertility and menstruation issues, impaired immunity and adrenal fatigue to name but a few.

And it's not just their physical health I worry about. It's their emotional health. I think what saddened me the most about the show is Rachel’s response to her former self. As the 260 pound hologram was presented to her she proudly declared "You are so gross" – ouch! What a harsh rejection of the woman she used to be. Can she only love herself if she is skinny?

In our clinics and centres we focus on helping our clients find self worth. When we can come from a place of deep self love, our food and exercise choices change. We no longer want to put rubbish into our bodies or punish ourselves, we want to adore our bodies and give them what will make them feel really good and not deplete them. I passionately believe we need to receive more of this message.

Dear television producers, stop making programmes that put contestants' health at risk and promotes unhealthy body image.

I want to see a TV programme that helps people fall in love with themselves. Where they are empowered to understand why they have been eating badly, why they have neglected their bodies and they decide to make a conscious decision to turn that around for themselves.

I want to see healthy diets made up of real, nutritious food partnered with sensible exercise plans. And I want a TV programme that celebrates good health, being a healthy weight and not extreme weight loss that is damaging and unsustainable.

If you feel like I do about stopping programmes such as the Biggest Loser, tweet the #stopbiggestloser hashtag on Twitter and let the producers know how you feel.

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