Healthy weight loss

The Channel 10 program The Biggest Loser has big contestants, big-talking trainers and a big prize; but is this big-rating TV show sending weight-conscious viewers the wrong message?

Is this method of extreme and rapid weight-loss healthy and sustainable?

Over 22 weeks, contestants undertake an exercise and diet regime that includes four to six hours a day of cardio and resistance training. This is intense for professional athletes - for the contestants, it's extreme, some contestants have lost 30 percent of their total body weight.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that of those losing 10 percent of their body weight - a significant amount - only about 20 percent will keep the weight off in the first year.

How can we relate the experiences of The Biggest Loser contestants to the general population?

Most people seeking to lose weight don’t have:

  • Four to six hours a day to exercise
  • Professional trainers on hand seven days a week
  • The pressure of a television audience to motivate weight loss

Most doctors and obesity experts recommend losing weight slowly, with moderate calorie reduction and moderate exercise, because smaller amounts of exercise can be incorporated into a normal schedule.

The YMCA is a strong advocate of the slow and steady approach for healthy weight loss.