We all know that it’s unhealthy to be overweight or obese, but when does a TV show go too far in trying to promote health?
Recent studies about the show “The Biggest Loser” seem to indicate that the series has serious negative impacts not only on the participants but also those who watch it — all 7 million of them.
Yoni Freedhoff, a doctor at the University of Ottawa who recently went on an epic rant against the food industry, took a look at the science of the show over at US News. He points to several studies about the show:
- The first in Obesity indicates that the show increases viewer’s “hateful and negative” feelings towards obese people.
- The second, in Health Communication, showed that viewers of the show have stronger beliefs that losing weight is totally up to a person’s ability to control it.
- Those same viewers were also less likely to want to exercise, according to the American Journal of Health behaviour.
- A paper in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that the extreme weight loss actually greatly slowed down the participants’ metabolism, making it easier for them to regain weight
This last one seems to be the case for most of the participants, Freedhoff writes:
This may explain why, when I interviewed three alumni of the TV show, they reported that 85 to 90 per cent of participants regain most, if not all, of the weight that they lose, and that those who keep it off are generally the participants who have turned their losses into careers as personal trainers or motivational speakers.
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