Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Are Reality Fitness Shows Putting People's Health At Risk?

I must confess to having watched both last years Biggest Loser UK and then the US version. I guess the programs are designed to be interesting and to engage us. But half way through these programs I began to feel saddened by the way these participants are treated and more importantly what others watching the show are learning from it. 

There is a real danger that many reality fitness and weight loss shows are too concerned with creating dramatic television rather than portraying a sensible and attentive approach to health and fitness. In fact from watching these shows most people who may be looking to lose weight and get fit themselves may be led to assume that fitness is nothing less than tortuous and that unless you're in excruciating pain, it just won't work. So are these shows simply putting people off exercise altogether?

A report in the American Journal of Health found that subjects who watched the show Biggest Loser were not only less inclined to exercise after watching but also reported enjoying exercise less too. There are many similar shows that focus on rapid weight loss in extreme conditions and this format seems to have taken over leading most people to assume that this is the accepted and indeed normal way of losing weight and getting in shape.

The idea that exercise must be tortuous to be worthwhile is enough to put anyone off. It seems that these shows revel in maximum weight loss in the shortest possible time - something that most experts know is not the best way to lose weight. The competition between the trainers seems to fuel the desire for their team to be beasted into submission. How can this be a healthy portrayal of getting fit and losing weight. We all know that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is slower weight loss of a few pounds a week and not pushing so hard that we injure ourselves or make ourselves sick.

But of course a program about a group of people getting in shape sensibly and lose a few punds a week simply doesn't make good television, so we are left with shows that seem to sell, regardless of the message they are giving out to their audience.


  1. It is great that those on the show lose weight, but they make weight loss unrealistic. Those guys workout all day! The show may motivate some to get moving, but sadly people love instant results and when they don't get them they tend to give up out of frustration. Sensible weight loss that can be sustained over time takes time to achieve. :D

  2. Agreed Cindy! The sad thing is that many people watch these shows and think this is how we should all be losing weight. Pushing your body that hard is a simple recipe for certain injury and is enough to put anyone off exercising for life!