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Published: October, 2005; Vol 2, Num 5

Cultural Review:

Biggest Loser Opens Second Season

By Steve Clark

“Inspiration, perseverance and sacrifice” were the watchwords as NBC kicked off the second season of its hit reality show, Biggest Loser.

In this year’s rendition, the women compete against the men. Eight women, ranging in weight from 218 to 267, will try to lose more weight, proportionately, than eight men, most of whom tipped the scales above 300 pounds. The teams are sequestered at a deluxe training center, pampered with a delicious but low calorie diet and directed by a team trainer in relentless exercise routines. Intermittently, they contest each other in various challenges, and each week they are weighed to see which has lost the most weight. The team that loses at the weigh-in must dismiss one of its members. The last person standing – the Biggest Loser – wins $250,000.

This year, NBC’s Biggest Loser website offers viewers some constructive direction for their own weight-loss efforts. It offers a list of diet option sites, including the Biggest Loser diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins and the South Beach diet. Some are free; others, including the namesake, have a membership fee. It also provides guidance for those who may be trying a fitness routine for the first time. Finally, it addresses a number of diet myths and promises to discuss more as the season unfolds.

Viewers can join the Biggest Loser Club for “under $5.00 per week.” After submitting information on their diet and exercise habits, members receive meal plans and a three-times-a-week exercise program fitted to their particular needs. The diet is described as “calorie-controlled, carbohydrate-modified and fat-reduced.” They also get weekly emails and access to the show’s fitness consultants.

The site also features information about the contestants and the progress of the competition. In week one, the teams were taken aloft in a special Boeing 727 to experience weightlessness. While floating around in the cabin, they had to gather as many floating ping-pong balls as possible. The men won the challenge, so one woman had to carry five pounds of extra weight into the weekly weigh-in. Despite the added poundage, the women squeaked by, losing 6.64 percent of their starting weight compared to 6.59 percent for the men. As a result, one man (Ruben) was voted off his team.

The website reports that all of last year’s contestants, so far, have maintained their new lifestyle and continued to lose weight. That should provide some inspiration to the 23 million that watched last year’s final episode. Hopefully, given our nation’s epidemic of girth, many more Americans are now pushing themselves to lose weight. This year’s show and the NBC website should help build the momentum.