"Competitive Weight Loss"

I was watching NBC earlier today, and there was a preview for the newest season of "The Biggest Loser." The ad copy said something along the lines of "the best of competitive weight loss."

And all I could think was: this has to be one of the most idiotic phrases I've heard.

For what other medical condition (if obesity is, indeed, a real medical condition) do we use competitive treatments? What's next? A chemotherapy competition titled "The Smallest Tumor" where higher and higher doses of chemo are administered in an effort to get the smallest tumor by the end of the show? Will there be oncologists telling the vomiting and balding cancer patients to stop being such babies, and if they want the smallest tumor, they need to suck it up and deal? Or how about a diabetes competition titled "The Lowest Sugar"? You might fall into a coma and die from all that insulin, but it's a small price to pay, right?

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Eating Alone said...

In there own words;
Listen to what Biggest Loser season one winner Ryan Benson had to say on his myspace blog:

“I wanted to win so bad that the last ten days before the final weigh-in I didn’t eat one piece of solid food! If you’ve heard of “The Master Cleanse” that’s what I did. Its basically drinking lemonade made with water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. The rules of the show said we couldn’t use any weight-loss drugs, well I didn’t take any drugs, I just starved myself! Twenty-four hours before the final weigh-in I stopped putting ANYTHING in my body, liquid or solid, then I started using some old high school wrestling tricks. I wore a rubber suit while jogging on the treadmill, and then spent a lot of time in the steam room. In the final 24 hours I probably dropped 10-13 lbs in just pure water weight. By the time of the final weigh-in I was peeing blood.

Was this healthy? Heck no! My wife wanted to kill me if I didn’t do it to myself first. But I was in a different place, I knew winning the show could put us in a better place financially and I was willing to do some crazy stuff. All this torture I put myself through has had no lasting effects on me (that I know of) and at the time it was sort of a fun adventure for me – but I am sure it reeked havoc on my system.

In the five days after the show was over I gained about 32 lbs. Not from eating, just from getting my system back to normal (mostly re-hydrating myself). So in five days I was back up to 240 – crazy!”

This show need's to be way more realistic

Telstaar said...

Really interestingly..... we as consumers might not be promoting competitive illness...but within health there is a VERY real push for competitive quality of health care - which really is more about stabilising and measuring illness. This is known as Pay for Performance and it has some benefits, but some very real negatives too - particularly in the realms of the "not measurable" or the enduring illnesses like mental health...

Just something else to think about cause I think you'd be interested in it (just a bit, not heaps) :)

Cathy (UK) said...

Fortunately, we don't have such crazy TV programmes (yet) in the UK... Hopefully, we never will...

I'm amazed that this programme has not been banned. I don't understand what role it plays in culture... Entertainment? Umm, no. Healthy Living? Definitely not.

Erica said...

"The Smallest Tumor." LOL!!! I would so watch that ;o)

Anonymous said...

Your post title seemed more like my ED than a Biggest Loser inspired thing. "Competative Weight Loss"...LOVE IT (rather, my ED does).

(I'm being sarcastic, obviously)

This is very stupid.

Rachel said...

I teach Pilates here in Boise, and a gal that comes to my class was on "The Biggest Loser" 3rd season. She even said that we as viewers do not see half of what goes on behind the scenes. She worked through many emotional issues, and has maintained a healthy weight by using moderation with food and excercise. She still keeps in touch with EVERYONE she was there with. She credits the show to saving her life, just like I credit a treatment center for changing mine. All in all, it's tough to pass judgement based on what we see sitting on our sofas, just like they could never judge the treatment choices someone with anorexia/bulimia uses.

There really are so many positives. One contestant's cholesterol dropped by 100 points. Another who was pre-diabetic no longer was glucose intolerant. And, one contestant who had hypertension no longer needed to take blood pressure medication after his large weight loss. These feats were all accomplished by a change in lifestyle -- not with medications. Did they achieve these things by the way you would have wanted them to? Probably not, but the above are life changing outcomes.

Is Biggest Loser extreme? Absolutely. In a perfect world, we would never have a show like this, but this world is far from perfect. Our perception- as a society- of food is extremely fucked up. Just remember we only see a small percentage of thier time on the ranch. Each of them is an individual. When the contestants are able to make positive lifestyle changes based on their time on the show, it can show that there are benefits to outweigh the negatives.

That being said, I think you did a great job of expressing your opinion.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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