Biggest Loser: Aren’t We All Winners When We Get Healthy?

biggest loser

One of the TV shows I watch after the kids are in bed is The Biggest Loser. I love watching ordinary people transform themselves through hard work, determination, and fueling their bodies with a nutritious and balanced diet.

So when my 5-year old asked to watch the finale the day after it aired (thanks to my trusty PVR), I had to make a decision. Is Biggest Loser appropriate for a 5-year old to watch and what kind of message is it sending to kids (and adults)?


Here are my “Mom’s Pluses (+) & Minuses (-)”

Biggest Loser Pluses (+)

  1. We learn healthy eating habits, nutrition knowledge, and portion control.
  2. We must get outside and exercise.
  3. This year BL focused on childhood obesity, with 3 child participants (first time ever). The show didn’t track the kids’ weight loss; rather, it focused on getting them moving, finding an activity they loved, and reaching towards a goal.
  4. Living an active lifestyle can be done with the whole family. Some of the contestants’ families lost weight at home during the show. In fact, weight loss and change of habits is much easier if the whole family shifts. This is especially true for staying healthy.
  5. Shines a spotlight on the unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits common in North America today. We see contestants in their “before” life, eating large portions or the wrong foods, stress eating or secret eating, and leading a life without enough exercise – too much time in front of TV and video games.
  6. We need drive and determination to reach our goals and resilience in the face of temporary setbacks.
  7. With drive and determination, plus encouragement and team support, tremendous obstacles can be overcome.
  8. Emotional issues are often a big reason behind weight gain (death of a loved one, bullying, fear, past trauma, etc). Losing the weight must include healing the emotional problem.
  9. Many contestants say how much better they feel about themselves and get a big boost to their self-esteem from losing weight and taking control of their health and wellbeing.
  10. TV is a great way to get a message out to a large number of people.

Biggest Loser Minuses (-)

  1. Should we be focused on weight loss to win money? Shouldn’t we be doing this just to feel better – physically, mentally and emotionally? Aren’t there other motivations besides money?
  2. Is it safe to lose so much weight so quickly? One person lost 47% of their body weight in 6 months.
  3. Should we put vulnerable people, who are trying hard to pull themselves back from the edge, under the additional stress of possibly being voted off the show and losing much of their support? Even when they’re making some progress towards their goals?
  4. How much do I want my child influenced by product placement advertising on the show, even for “healthy” foods like Subway?
  5. Is watching a trainer yell at a tortured contestant a good example for a child? Jillian Michaels explained that she had to change her training tactics this year after she lost most of her team competitors in the first 3 weeks.

What would be better ways to teach my child about nutrition and exercise?

What are your ideas?

Post your comments below or send us an email to

 PS: Congratulations to Season 14 winner Danni! I was rooting for you the whole way!!


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