The Biggest Loser and American Obesity

This is a subject that has been stuck in my brain for a while.  It’s going to piss off a few of my friends, it’s going to even surprise a few people that I feel this way – but hey, that’s what the internet is for, right?

Ryan - BL1 - Before
Ryan - BL1 - Before

I remember the excitement when NBC launched “The Biggest Loser”.  The first cast was a bunch of people that were fat.  Probably all obese, but they were definitely fat.  You can read all about it on Wikipedia if you would like, but the heaviest person was 436 pounds.  Second to him was the the guy that ultimately won the competition at 33o pounds.  Heck, one person only weighed in at 167 pounds. We were all amazed at how great this pack of fatties did.  We were inspired, we dieted, we worked out, we ate right and got back to the TV every week to see who was going to win the next challenge.  The workouts were hard – not doubt.  The challenges were incredible… (I honestly don’t remember any of them in particular) and voting people off just about ripped your heart out!  For Ryan, this 330 pound dude – it worked great!

Ryan - BL1 Winner

All indications are that Ryan has kept the weight off and is doing good. Now – scroll forward 9 seasons.

Looking at the information that has been released and/or leaked to Wikipedia,  the average weight of the men is 392 pounds.  The average weight of the women is 273 pounds.  Is this a TRUE reflection of the American population?  (I ask – I don’t know).  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 34% of American’s over twenty years old are Obese.  In this casting of the Biggest Loser – all but TWO of the contestants are Obese Class III (greater than 40 BMI).

I know a few things here.  There are a lot of people like me.  Obese Class I (30 – 34.9 BMI).  (Yes, I’m obese based on all medical charts, tables and indicators.  Probably one of the healthiest obese people around, but I am obese).  Does NBC want to help people overcome obesity or make money?  I’m going to say both – but the focus is clearly on the second.  NOBODY is going to get excited to see 10 guys like me, needing to lose 30-40 pounds chipping away at their weight total.  I am 110% sure, if I were to get on the Biggest Loser – I could *EASILY* lose 15 pounds the first week.  (I can also tell you I would go in there so full of food and water, I would probably explode!).  The following week, I would pay the price, but I could blow some things up.  That’s where the excitement, the drama, the fun ends… then it’s back to reality.  NBC has taken no risk by selecting 20 people with a BMI over 40.  If you take any group of people, take them away from McDonalds and only give them Jenni-O turkey for a week – they are going to lose weight.  Now – have some militant bitch and her smiley buddy yell at them and give them hugs, they will probably lose more.  Do that for 17 weeks – they will lose more and more… they might even get down to Class I obesity.  But what’s next?

I just feel that the show has become, much like Christmas, way too commercial.  I’ll probably watch it.  I’ll probably follow Jillian, Bob and Ali on twitter, as well as other Biggest Loser Contestants – but  I’m starting to get REALLY jaded on the show.  If you want to have REALITY TV, let’s have REALITY.  Realistically, fat people don’t gather on a ranch with a state of the art gym.  Realistically, fat people with kids, jobs and everything else aren’t given $250,000 for losing weight.  Realistically only 40 people a year are given a chance to go onto “The Ranch”.  Realistically there are 7.8 million other American’s that could use some help too.  Realistically – if you have immunity in a contest, you DO drink a gallon of water to put on eight pounds… especially if somebody is going to give you $250,000 for saving your life.  I think – if they wanted to help more – NBC would come up with some more real life situations and help us to learn to eat healthier in public, not in Hollywood… but that’s not good TV.

Wow – I’ve almost talked myself out of watching…