Weight loss TV shows know how to get you hooked. You follow people on their journey to losing weight, learn about their struggles and secret past, then see them shed hundreds of pounds and become the person they have always dreamed of. They are in shape, healthy and have never felt better and being on the show saved their life.
But what happens after the show is over? How maintainable is it for these individuals to maintain their weight loss?
There are a few things about these shows that cause some concern.
1. Weight loss is about a balance of healthy eating and exercise. On these shows the weight loss is FAST which is hard on the body and hard to maintain long term. Extreme measures must be taken to lose weight this quickly. The contestants exercise for hours upon hours per day, which is not feasible in the real world. This amount of exercise can also cause injury if not supervised by a professional.
2. They are in a weight-loss bubble. Spending 3 months in an environment solely for weight loss and exercise will help people stay motivated. But again, what happens when you are out in the real world? Being thrown back into real life without any support and a less regimented schedule makes it easy for individuals to regain weight.
3. The show puts people in the public eye. Sometimes support from fans and people watching you can be beneficial, but this can also set you up for severe scrutiny and judgement, both of which can be negative in weight loss success.
4. The show can lead contestants to develop eating disorders. When weight loss becomes a competition and is done so in harmful ways, it is easy for people to develop disordered eating habits. Add the fact that you are in the public eye and there is a lot of pressure for someone to reach their goals, even if it means risking your health.
When weight loss is the focus instead of overall health it can be very damaging. We focus more on how we look rather than how we feel and that can lead to unhealthy habits. A good example of this is this Q&A with Biggest Loser Contestant Kai Hibbard. In this Q&A she discusses her experience on the Biggest Loser and how long term, it actually did more harm than good.
Another example of how these shows can become more negative instead of positive is the controversy from the most recent winner, Rachel Frederickson. She looked very thin at the finale and caused the nation and the trainers on the show much concern.
These shows portray the idea that weight loss in a short amount of time is healthy and that losing weight will fix your problems. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes and how people are affected mentally.
What do you think of these types of shows? Good or bad?