SolveYourProblem Article Series: Weight Loss & Dieting
How Do I Really Lose Weight?


Why Is The Biggest Loser So Popular?

The object of this ironically-named NBC reality TV game show is to lose the most amount of weight in the allotted time frame, thereby making him or her The Biggest Loser, in all the right places and all the right ways. First prize: $25,000 and priceless personal satisfaction!

First broadcast in the 2004 fall season, the show pits several contestants (12 the first year, 14 the next, and 50 in Season 3) against one another in a variety of diet and exercise related competitions.

The first 3 seasons, The Biggest Loser was hosted by Caroline Rhea, a Canadian comedian best know to American audiences as Aunt Hilda from ABC TV’s Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Rhea was replaced as host of The Biggest Loser in season 4 by Alison Sweeney, made famous by her role on the popular NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives.

The show is narrated by its creator and executive director, J.D. Roth, whose first go at adult reality TV was as host of FOX show Unan1mous.

At the start of a season of The Biggest Loser, the contestants are divided into teams, only competing as individuals towards the end of the season when the playing field has been considerably whittled down. Each team is assigned a personal trainer to support and monitor the contestants’ progress.

Each episode of the show covers a time span of a week, and is structured the same basic way:

1. Temptation – In preparation for the week, contestants are presented with a temptation, something that would defeat their efforts to lose weight. The catch is: giving in to the temptation results in rewards (sometimes kept secret, sometimes revealed up front) that may make succumbing prove worthwhile. This part of the game emphasizes the importance of making the right personal choices for oneself.

2. Rewards Challenge – Teams compete to win a prize. Often these are athletic (or at least active, exercise-based) competitions, that benefit all participants in their weight loss objectives whether they get to savor the fruits of victory or not.

3. Weigh-In – All the contestants are weighed to determine who lost the least (which team, while in team play; which individual once the teams are dissolved)

4. Vote – The team with the lowest percentage of weight lost votes one of its members out. At the finale, once the competition is narrowed down to two contestants, the percentage who lost the most weight and percentage body fat wins and is crowned:: The Biggest Loser.

Unfortunately, The Biggest Loser suffers from the same dramatic flaws that plague most supposedly performance-based reality game shows (like Survivor and The Apprentice) where contestants can be voted off for being “too good” as easy as they can for not shaping up. And still others get voted out because their not part of the strongest alliance, a modern spin on the same old popularity contest. Being a television show, of course, it’s job to get ratings and keep advertisers happy, the push for drama at the expense of progress is understandable, but disheartening nonetheless.

Still, the formula must be working, because while initially a U.S. show, The Biggest Loser has now become a worldwide phenomenon and a global franchise, with 2 seasons under its belt in Australia, 2 in the U.K., 4 in the Netherlands, and 1 season each in Brazil, Israel, and India.

Why is The Biggest Loser so popular? Easy: because people everywhere are concerned about their weight, and knowing that it’s possible for them to lose it if they put their minds to it, and seeing it happen before their eyes to other people, provides the kind of encouragement and support you can’t get anywhere else but in a global village. With that kind of strength, guidance, and encouragement behind you, anyone can be inspired to finally do what it takes to shed those unwanted pounds.

Kudos to NBC and The Biggest Loser, for lighting a torch and leading the way.

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