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Reflections on fitness, wellness, health and more

Biggest Loser – A hit show or offensive?

Based on the popularity of our previous Blog Post called "The Biggest Loser, friend or foe of fitness", when we came across Justin Tamsett's recent post we thought it pertinent to re-post here. You can visit Justin's very informative blog at

As filming has begun on the next series of Biggest Loser in Australia, I was thinking does this reality show help or hinder the over weight problem in Australia.

The journal Obesity Management explored the attitudes of people toward the Biggest Loser here in Australia. The group they surveyed were overweight: 42% classified as obese and 58% as morbidly obese. Here are the results:

* 48% watched the show because they identified with the participants personal struggles;
* 17% watched for education and information;
* 71% thought the basic concept was negative and even offensive;
* 41% felt the show promoted “weight loss techniques that the majority of obese people couldn’t access or afford”;
* 25% felt the rapid weight loss emphasis was a dangerous message for the community to hear.

I guess whether you love or hate the methods that Michelle Bridges and Shannon Ponton use to motivate the participants or convey the message, the message cannot be missed – move more and eat better.

Being totally honest, I hate the name ‘Biggest Loser.’ I find it very degrading based on the Aussie vernacular of a loser but it does sum up what the show is all about . . . losing weight!

Some times, I think the show does go too far with challenges. But I appreciate that these are ‘challenges’ physically and emotionally.

Some times Michelle & Shannon are “too in your face.” But I know they do it to help the person and mean no malice.

I agree with the study . . . rapid weight loss is not the most optimal nor a good example for people. But it shows what is possible when someone is focused and committed!

I disagree with the respondents as I do feel many of the options that are shown in the TV show are accessible and very affordable – provided you make weight loss a priority.

Obesity costs Australia billions of dollars a year. Money that could be spent on roads, education and infrastructure. I believe anything that can help reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese is a good thing. This show definitely will not drive people to getting fat!

So I reckon the reality show has raised the profile of weight loss, the challenges of weight loss and how to achieve weight loss and no one can bemoan those facts.

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Posted by: Williams Australia | 16-Nov-2009 12:39 PM | 3 out of 5 stars

As the owner of Australia's 2008 & 2009 Personal Training Business of the Year and one of Australia's leading fitness experts, I feel it necessary to respond to this article.

One thing you failed to ask all the people that were surveyed was how many of them that watch the show have actually made some form of effort to either exercise more or eat a little bit healthier from watching the show??

I agree that the name of the show is perhaps not ideal as it is putting a negative sub conscious thought process into people's mind (are they thinking they are a loser just from the the name of the show?) but it does attract people to watch it...

They do deliver a very easy message for the Aust community to yes move more eat better, which I believe is a huge positive for the country.

Everytime the show goes live to air, here in Canberra we really notice an increase in numbers to our Group Personal Training or Boot Camp programs.

At last years show we had an average rise of 15% of participants to ur classes. We actually now time our program launches to match the shows.

I believe some of the people in our country are missing the message of just how dangerous this is becoming, we are now the FATTEST country in the world yet people are still laughing at that fact...

Agreed both trainers have their own style and method for training but both do a wonderful good in getting results and assisting to change people's lives for the better.

We cannot forget the un mentioned fact that some of the people that have been on the show over the years, may not actually be with us now if it wasn't for the show, Shannon & Michelle and the combined effort to teach these individuals how to lose 50+ kg.

I would rather see someone lose 50kg rapidly than not all!!!

One thing we do not see is the behind efforts of the show and the fact that they are taught how to cook properly, what is the difference between good and bad foods etc, they also have Dr's & physicaians on hand for the participants so as to ensure that they are safe at all times whilst on the show.

The show does let people know that it is possible and anyone can do it. These people are all just average Joe's like the rest of yet they can do it!!

There are many great and accessible and affordable programs available across Australia for people to attend who are a bit conscious about their appearance. They may just need to look a bit closer at their community.

Here in Canberra we offer small groups at a greatly discounted rate the opportunity to come to sessions with like minded people.

Now we mix these sessions up from fitness, to working with the mind to going to the grocery store and showing healthier options.

In 2010 we are also going to incorporate cooking classes as well to show how easy it is to cook. Now these classes are only around $10 per session.

At the end of the day I am not sure what price people can put on their life?

I agree totally that the show has really raised the awareness nationally of the challenges people face everyday and I say keep up the great work!!!

Scott Williams
Succeed Personal Development

Posted by: Anonymous | 03-Dec-2009 09:50 AM | 5 out of 5 stars

Being a Personal Trainer i can only be attracted to this kind of program wether positive or negative vibes are experienced.
We must remember that the show is there for the ratings 1st and foremost of the TV station, and if the ratings drop so does the program. Everything about TV like this has to be dramatic or excessive to survive and if the show was called "How to Lose Weight" or "Get Thinner and Fitter" how attractive would that be amidst all the other weight loss programs. Its a great name formulated to attract attention either way. The TV show is excessive but it is for TV. Great show, if they take offense then they need to toughen up as the road to permanent control of our health and fitness is long and hard. Get from the show what u can and remember. you are watching tele and not a seminar.

Posted by: Dana Eden | 11-Jun-2011 09:33 AM |

The journal Obesity Management explored the attitudes of overweight and/or obese people. Of course they would find the show negative (or offensive) because it would be creating an uncomfortable feeling within all of them. Lets face it, most weight issues
are a reflection of internal conflict and low self worth. Sometimes it is easier to say that the show is negative rather than having to rediscover their self respect and self worth and overcome their current mindset. Changing an overweight and/or obese person's
mindset to that of a fit healthy person takes work and unless someone is ready to make the change, it is easier to sit in denial.