Weight Loss, Dieting & Obesity

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Weight Loss Reality TV Television Shows.



A growing number of weight loss reality TV shows are appearing on television screens around the world. All of them demonstrate major results that can be achieved through diet and exercise, though some add extra therapies into the mix.

Some critics argue that certain of these weight loss reality TV shows may encourage unhealthy practices in the name of rapid weight loss, inspired by large prizemoney. There have been suggestions of what happens off-camera, such as vomiting and purging by some contestants, for example.

There is also the criticism that large scale short term weight loss will inevitably result in contestants metabolisms slowing down, leading to rapid uncontrollable weight gain in coming years. Of course, we'll never see these long term effects on our screens.

A further criticism of certain such weight loss reality TV shows is that they are, in fact, far from "reality". The role models provided cannot be emulated by the viewing public. The very artificial environments of isolation, 24 hour supervision by doctors, dieticians, fitness instructors and other professionals, the many hours of vigorous exercise every day, the removal from daily responsibilities of families, jobs and so forth, just cannot be copied by the general public. Accordingly, the results contestants / participants on these weight loss reality TV shows achieve can reasonably be argued to be very artificial indeed.

For all the range of criticisms, however, there is a valuable role being played by the various weight loss reality TV shows around the world. They provide the viewing public with inspiration. They discuss health, diet, cooking & meal preparation, exercise, attitude, motivation, the role of alternative therapies such as yoga or other forms of stress management, and other educational issues.

The following are links to the websites of a number of recent and current reality weight loss TV shows. These sites provide updates on the shows, the characters, and also the diets and fitness tips the contestants / participants are following.

USA

The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Since its debut in 2004,"The Biggest Loser" has become a worldwide hit airing in over 90 countries and produced in 25 countries. 

The blockbuster eighth series airs from mid September 2009, with a cast of sixteen contestants and a series theme of "Second Chances". It will again be hosted by Angela McSweeney and the contestants will again be ably trained by Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels.

"The Biggest Loser" website contains all the information about the show, the previous series, the contestants, plus plenty of expert advice on diet and training.

Expressions of interest for contestants for a ninth series are already being sought. Would you like to be a contestant on The Biggest Loser? They are currently seeking family member teams of two who each have at least 100lbs to lose. Click here for general NBC casting information or Click here for specific "The Biggest Loser" casting details.

Biggest Loser Club (NBC)

This is a "spin off" website related to "The Biggest Loser" where you can get online access to the diet & fitness program used by the contestants - personalized to fit your goals and lifestyle.

Weighing In (The Food Network)

This 2006 weight loss reality television show series was previous entitled "Take It Off". Chef Juan-Carlos Cruz helps overweight men and women slim down for a special event in their lives. Over a 3-month period, the "losers" will get guidance, support, and advice from a team of health and fitness experts: a nutritionist to devise individual eating plans, and a trainer to help them shape up.

"Weighing In" appears to have only lasted that one season and the website has now been removed. The link above now diverts to the home page of The Food Network.

Celebrity Fit Club - Series 6 - "BootCamp" (2008) (VH1) &

Celebrity Fit Club - Series 5 - "Men vs Women" (Mid 2007) (VH1)
Celebrity Fit Club - Series 4 (Late 2006) (VH1)
Celebrity Fit Club - Series 3 (Early 2006) (VH1)
Celebrity Fit Club - Series 2 (Late 2005) (VH1)
Celebrity Fit Club - Series 1 (Early 2005) (VH1)

Celebrity Fit Club is a one-hour weekly reality show in which eight overweight celebrities compete in two teams of four to lose weight. In each episode the celebrities attend 'Fit Camp' where they take part in a range of physical and motivational activities designed to shed the pounds, increase team spirit and rivalry, and win prizes. The show is hosted by noted comedian ANT and the contestants are aided on their weight loss journey by:

The Trainer: Gunnery Sergeant Harvey Walden IV
Health & Nutrition Expert: Dr. David Katz &
Hypnotherapist: Marisa Peer

Despite the success and popularity of Celebrity Fit Club over six seasons, no announcement has been made as to whether a seventh season can be expected. (Maybe after six series, there's a lack of overweight, unemployed 'celebrities' left in the US.)

Dance Your Ass Off (Oxygen)

New to 2009, 'Dance Your Ass Off' introduced a new concept (some would say "a new low") in weight loss reality television by combining two popular reality show genres (dancing and weight loss) into a single theme. Contestants were ranked each week according to their dance score, marked by a panel of judges out of ten, and their pounds of weight loss for the week. The lowest scorer each week was eliminated. (In effect, the dancing component comprised about 75% of the total score, so it was far more a dance show than a weight loss show.)

The series was not only watched in the US, but Australian viewers on the Nine Network throughout Australia had the chance to see it, too. In Australia, it was removed from programming after just the first week due to an outraged and offended audience. Frankly, I don't understand why it lasted the distance in the US without channel executives pulling the plug. Nor do I undrstand why they are calling for applicants for a second series in 2010.

In effect, the show is demeaning and voyeuristic in its approach, appealing to television perverts who get off on watching obese people, mostly from distinct minority groups, humiliate themselves by wild gyrations of their "floppy bits". The sick and demeaning nature of the show was confirmed in the very first episode when one of the judges told a contestant that, from the way her.... err..... let's just say "between her legs area" flopped and bounced while doing the splits in a dance move, that id she didn't win the $100,000 overall prize, he could see another way that she could easily make $100,000.

There is nothing of any meaningful value for overweight or obese viewers to learn from this cheap, trashy voyeuristic show and I recommend a viewers' boycott and a campaign with the US media regulators to demand that this show be discontinued on the basis of offending all sense of public decency and being offensively out of touch with community standards, including treatment of minorities.

No, I won't provide a link to the call for future contestants.

UK

Supersize vs Superskinny (Channel 4)

Sometimes, you have to wonder what kind of depraved minds are behind these voyeuristic television shows. What sicko came up with the idea of taking a grossly obese person and a sickly anorexic, putting them in a clinic together -- not to treat them -- but to make them swap diets and lifestyles for a week so that they can "learn" about each other's bad habits? I sure hope that Dr Christian Jessen is ashamed of himself for his participation in this disgracefully exploitative and unhealthy series - though if he was, surely he would have walked away from the show (and the pay packet) before now.

Such is 'Supersize vs Superskinny', commencing its third season in February 2010. The series is also available in a number of other countries.

Additional to the unhealthy voyeuristic exploitation of the vulnerable, the series features Anna Richardson carrying out short term experiments on herself with diets she has found on the internet. In addition to diets, she also 'promotes' potentially dangerous extreme measures such as Laser Lipolysis, Diabulimia, and so forth.

Do not mistake 'Supersize vs Superskinny' for a medical or health show. It is probably the most unhealthy and dangerous weight loss show ever devised.

You Are What You Eat (Channel 4)

Three Fat Brides, One Thin Dress. (3 Part Special Series) *
Meal Plans (11 Part Special Series) *
Healthy Foods (Special Series) *
XMAS Detox (2 Part Special Series) *
You Are What You Eat - Series 3 (2006)
You Are What You Eat - Series 2
You Are What You Eat - Series 1

Taking a very different approach from other weight loss reality TV shows, each 30 minute episode looks at a different family. The chosen families are of serious obese husbands, wives and usually teenage or at-home older children who have terribly unhealthy diets and sedentary lives. The no-nonsense, straight talking nutritionist Gillian McKeith analyses their lifestyle and diets, re-educates them about the dangers and health consequences of how they are living, and with a program over an eight week period (condensed into the 30 minute episode) produces tremendous changes in their shapes, their health and their attitudes towards exercise and diet.

For many people, this show should not be watched while eating dinner. Gillian McKeith's obsession with colonic irrigation and examination of poo samples does not make it suitable meal time viewing.

Overall, "You Are What You Eat" is a far less 'sensational' and much more educational and practical reality television show than many of it's peers, though tends to promote a very debatable near-vegetarian dietary approach.

* Note: After Series 3 in 2006, the show ceased being a weight loss reallity television show and transformed itself into documentary-style specific topic special series.

Honey, We're Killing The Kids (BBC)

"Honey, We're Killing the Kids" is a series where six sets of parents get to fast-forward their children's lives and actually come face to face with them in middle age. For many of the parents it's an unsettling moment as they meet their adult offspring who've been adversely affected by their unhealthy lifestyles. The show covers more than just weight loss. It looks at the total long term health consequences of the way children are being raised today.

This show lasted until Series Three in 2006 on BBC Three. The website link above remains available, but appears unstable and often difficult to access.

Australia

The Biggest Loser - Australia (Network Ten)

Based on the same successful format as the USA version, right down to importing the same US Trainers, the first series of the Australian version of The Biggest Loser was an overwhelming ratings sensation in 2006.

The show has evolved in the two subsequent series with Australian trainers, Michelle Bridges and Shannon Ponton, sharing the effort with the US's Bob & Jillian in 2007 and the two Aussie trainers (plus the mysterious and frightening "The Commando") fully taking over the training responsibilities in 2008 & 2009.

The 2009 Series Four has recently concluded. It was such a ratings sensation that a fifth series in 2010 is inevitable. A contestant-call has already been made. One thing we do already know about the 2010 series is the the host of prior years, Ms. Ajay Rochester, will not be returning. Her high profile legal and other controversies in 2008/09 have seen the Network announce that a replacement will be found for future series of this weight loss reality show ratings blockbuster.

Biggest Loser Club - Australia (Network Ten)

This is an official "spin off" from the Australian weight loss TV reality series "The Biggest Loser" where you can get online access to the diet & fitness program used by the contestants - personalized to fit your goals and lifestyle.

Celebrity Overhaul (Nine Network)

(Link disabled as the relevant website has been deleted.) Having finished a highly successful second series, a third series late in 2006 was promised. A group of a dozen or so Australian celebrities are put into a rigorous doctor & fitness instructor supervised camp for six weeks. The first series was set on an Australian rural landscape property. The second series was set in a Thailand beachfront health resort. Unlike 'The Biggest Loser' and 'Celebrity Fit Club', Celebrity Overhaul is not a contest. The improvements in fitness, health and weight loss for all contestants is its own reward.

Overhaul (Nine Network)

(Link disabled as the relevant website has been deleted.) The promised late 2006 third series of the Nine Network's weight loss reality TV show "Celebrity Overhaul" has been replaced by 'Overhaul'. Basically, it is the same show, only with eight overweight ordinary Australians instead of celebrities. (Maybe after the first two series, there became a shortage of overweight unemployed 'celebrities' in Australia.)

It appears that the Nine Network have ceased production of any further series, though the website from the last series is still available.

Honey, We're Killing The Kids (Network Ten)

An Australian version of the UK BBC series was aired from early to mid 2006. That first Australian series was not followed up with new series in 2007 or any subsequent year. (No website available.)

Canada

Taking It Off - Season 4 (2005)  (Life Network & Discovery Health Network)

Taking It Off - Season 3
Taking It Off - Season 2
Taking It Off - Season 1

(A special "thank you" to Alyson, a contestant from Series 4, for bringing the "Taking It Off" website & TV show to our attention.)

In an interesting twist for a weight loss reality TV series, no-one gets voted off and each contestant choses their own program to lose weight. The contestants are not "live in" and therefore the show depicts real people in real life situations with practical weight loss pursuits that viewers will find inspiring and educational. The show has not progressed to a fifth season.

X-Weighted (Sliced)

The X-Weighted TV show is a series of one-hour documentaries about adult Canadians each fighting their individual war on fat. The bulge-busters hail from across Canada (Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver.) Carrying from 40 to 150 extra pounds each, they run, climb, pump, bike and dance their way to healthier weights, during periods of four to six months. The X-Weighted TV Show records all the plans and pitfalls, gripes and grit that go hand-in-hand with achieving this often-exasperating goal. The emphasis is on the underlying causes and ongoing triggers for excess weight as these frank but feisty people grapple with their personal flaws, emotional baggage and suppressed conflicts.

Full episodes are available for viewing online.

The third season has recently concluded and a fourth season has been promised. This coming season will be based on families, rather than individuals. In the words of the producers:

X-Weighted: Families is an eye-opening viewing experience revealing the critical issues contributing to a national obesity epidemic. We follow the journeys of a varied cross-section of courageous Canadian families coming to terms with their fat reality. As well as losing sleep about fitting in at school or their first kiss, obese kids are also worrying about diabetes, high blood pressure and depression. Each of the thirteen stand-alone episodes follows a different family in their struggle to effect positive change in their own lives and the lives of their children.

A casting call is open for people wishing to participate in the next series of this weight loss reality TV show. If you wish to be a contestant, click here for application details.

The Last Ten Pounds Bootcamp (Sliced)

The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp propels women through an intense fitness and nutrition regimen that dramatically resizes them in record time. Motivated by a special event (an upcoming wedding, anniversary, vacation, or reunion) participants strive to transform themselves physically and mentally in just four weeks. Their mission: to lose weight. Their target: to fit into a sexy new outfit.

Tommy Europe, former football star turned celebrity trainer, is the country's most sought-after personal trainer whose modus operandi is a military-style IN-YOUR-FACE approach. A thrilling combination of scary and sexy, he is the Drill Instructor everyone will love to hate - he's every participants' best friend and worst enemy.

Tommy's sidekick is hard-bodied Nadeen Boman, the take-no-prisoners Nutrition Coach who is well known for his "Nadeen Boman Meal Plan". Nadeen ransacks the fridge and cupboards, trashes the sugar and fat, and completely overhauls the participant's nutrition and lifestyle in a hard-hitting high impact fashion.

Full episodes are available for viewing online.

The current series is now almost finished. A casting call is open for people wishing to participate in the next series. If you wish to be a contestant, click here for application details.

Other

Do you know of any other Weight Loss Reality TV programmes, anywhere in the world, that have accompanying websites? Or, is any of the information on this page outdated and in need of updating? Please let us know.

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