The popular television reality show The Biggest Loser is supposed to inspire people to exercise and lose weight, but a new study out of Canada says it’s having the opposite effect.
Researchers at the University of Alberta discovered that folks who watched a short video clip from the show ended up having negative attitudes toward exercise.
“The depictions of exercise on shows like The Biggest Loser are really negative,” said lead author Tanya Berry, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion. “People are screaming and crying and throwing up, and if you’re not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is — that it’s this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong.”
In the study, 138 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta were split into two groups. One group watched a seven minute video clip from The Biggest Loser, showing obese participants struggling during exercise. The control group watched a clip from American Idol.
Immediately after viewing the clips, both groups were asked to write down their first five thoughts. They also completed a computer test to measure their attitudes about exercise.
“We did find that the people who watched The Biggest Loser had worse attitudes about physical activity than those who watched the American Idol clip,” said Berry. Those result, she added, were consistent no matter what the student’s physical activity or weight.
Berry said her research debunks the popular belief that shows like The Biggest Loser can be motivational and get people off the couch. She says the show’s negative portrayals of exercise are counterproductive to public health campaigns.
“There’s a lot of effort and good work out there just to get people more active, but it’s such a small voice in this big wash of different depictions of exercise. It’s a big mess,” said Berry,
Berry’s research team is now working on a study that will focus on episodes of The Biggest Loser that feature participants who have lost weight, are physically fit and enjoy exercise. Those results should be published next year.
The current study, to be published in the January 2013 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior, was funded in part by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
(0) Readers Comments
November 12, 2012
October 08, 2012
September 12, 2012
July 23, 2012
June 26, 2019
Oh boy...Your right we hate to hear this. You know why people in pain
Doesn't the 1.5 billion is spent a year give credence to its possitive
Many MS drugs cause PML and deaths too these drugs all need t
I knew him when he was breaking in at a couple of Los Angeles TV stati
Saying there is a 'twist' is the worst type of spoile