Weight LossEverything the top obesity researchers in the world have studied, trialed and published over the past 20 years has been completely ignored by the producers of reality shows like the Biggest Loser.

Firstly, it is well documented that an extremely low calorie diet is unsustainable in the long term, it gets boring, you lose muscle mass and before long you give up, resume your old eating habits and regain all the lost weight and more. Losing 5-10 kg per week might make good TV but it is not something the viewers should be trying to emulate if they want to permanently lose weight and have a healthy lifestyle. Most overweight and obese people are not BMI 40 plus to start with and even if you are a weight loss of 1 kg per week is much more realistic and sustainable.

The same goes for doing strenuous exercise for 4-6 hours a day until you vomit. Yes it makes for great viewing but it is not the best way to burn fat, it is of course unrealistic and not sustainable. It will make them fit but are they going to keep doing this when the TV cameras are switched off and they no longer have a personal trainer on hand, highly unlikely. A research study from Oxford has shown that many of these people actually gain all of their weight back within a few years.

Research has also shown that setting unrealistic or unachievable goals has a negative impact on weight loss. Shaming participants who already have body issues, low self-esteem and a history of failure when it comes to weight loss can have serious consequences down the track as they get dumped from the show for not losing enough weight.

There are many different reasons why people overeat and sitting down with a qualified counsellor can help people identify these issues and address them. The poor contestants on these shows have to endure an assault on their emotions and then have to reveal their most personal details to the world. This is a cruel and callous way of identifying a problem that should be dealt with by professionals trained to achieve the best outcome for the patient and not the highest ratings for the TV station.

Just because you see someone losing massive amounts of weight on the TV, don’t assume that they are successful losers, their long term outcome is unlikely to be successful. Don’t try and emulate these losers, you will have greater success with a sustainable weight loss and exercise plan that is in no way extreme.

Weight loss does not have to be and should not be that hard.

Dr Sebely Pal

From the Dr Pal Program