Regarding NBC’s The Biggest Loser®

The Biggest Loser…aims to jump-start weight loss in the most severely obese individuals through an intensive fitness, nutrition, and behavioral reconditioning program under the supervision of physicians, registered dietitians, and professional fitness trainers who use varying approaches to motivate, inspire, and sometimes embarrass and shame the Biggest Loser participants into pushing through grueling workouts, oftentimes lasting up to a reported four hours per day.

ACE strongly encourages the fitness community to:

  • Applaud the opportunity created by the Biggest Loser to engage more people in the pursuit of healthy, physically-active lifestyles while also setting realistic expectations for weight loss such as recommended weight loss not to exceed one to two pounds per week.
  • Emphasize that weight loss programs should be designed and supervised by professionals and should adhere to industry and physiological guidelines for safe and effective program design and progression.
  • Advise clients to resist the temptation to emulate a Biggest Loser-style weight loss mentality which can be unsafe, ineffective, and demotivating for many people.
  • Warn clients that programs and products sponsored by shows like the Biggest Loser might not be effective or right for them.
  • Reinforce for clients that weight loss maintenance is much more difficult than weight loss, and making permanent lifestyle changes will be key to their successes.
  • Embrace individuals who struggle with their weight and have expressed an interest in beginning or escalating a physical-activity regimen while being sensitive to the effects of weight-based stigmatization.
  • Teach clients that many factors determine a person’s body weight and shape and that the most successful strategies for weight loss include a combination of physical activity, healthy nutrition, and behavioral change within the context of a supportive social network and larger-scale efforts to improve community health.
  • Support positive messages offered on the Biggest Loser such as the importance of social support and a family approach to change while, at the same time, taking a stand against potentially harmful and hurtful tactics employed on the show such as embarrassing participants and testing them with hard-to-resist rewards in exchange for harmful behavior.
  • While The Biggest Loser may not represent a weight-loss program as it should be pursued for the vast majority of people, it does shine a light on the importance of physical activity in a lifestyle-change program and gives an opportunity to fitness professionals to reach greater numbers of people.

(Adapted from the American Council on Exercise Statement)

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