Biggest Loser Contests – Health Promotion or Humiliation?
More than once I have been asked to run a local “Biggest Loser” contest since I am after all, a dietitian. And we dietitians are all about massive weight loss, right? And we ARE the Food Police, right? And we love making people guilty about what they eat, right?
- I am all about health and wellness, not massive weight loss. I would never try to shame anyone about body size or shape, and do not want to see people eat salads til they turn green or exercise to the point of physical pain, especially vomiting.
- I am not the Food Police. I believe all foods can fit into the context of an overall healthy diet. I don’t believe in monitoring what other people eat – I trust they can do that themselves. I believe in Intuitive Eating, that we all know what our bodies want and need, but somewhere along the line, we lost the skill of recognizing hunger and fullness. I believe those skills can be re-learned. When that happens consistently, weight loss begins until weight maintenance takes over.
- I am into empowering people, focusing on their strengths, not their weaknesses, and building them up to success. I would never yell or swear at clients, call them names, or accuse them of not trying.
I have seen the Biggest Loser a few times but there are things on that show that don’t make sense to me. One of the most perplexing is that personal trainers would want people with alot of weight to lose to run. It has been determined that each foot strike while running withstands a force equal to 8x a person’s body weight. If someone weighs 350 pounds, that’s 2800 pounds of force on the joints! Many people on this show weigh more than that. Do the math…. ouch.
People do lose weight, of course. Anyone on an extreme diet and exercise plan will. Add the media hype, sensationalism, and drum rolls, and the weight will melt off quickly. I wonder, what happens to the people who get booted off? And do those who succeed keep their weight off long-term? What happens when they go back to “normal life?” ‘
Unfortunately, no one asked me to be on the show. I probably wouldn’t meet the criteria, anyway. My techniques aren’t tough or extreme enough. Nor do I have a tanned face and washboard abs like the trainers. Reality shows want buns of steel, radical, outlandish content, and we dietitians with our practical nutrition messages are simply too boring!
So there you have it, my view on Biggest Loser contests. No, I won’t start one for your organization. But I could assist your company with a worksite wellness program. I could coach you individually on making nutrition and fitness changes for life. No screaming from me, just, kind, compassionate, results-oriented coaching! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out my tele-classes, too!