Are Reality Weight Loss Shows Creating Unrealistic Expectations?

10:02 AM

By now you have likely all seen a reality weight loss show like The Biggest Loser or MTV's new "I Used to Be Fat" series. These reality shows are entertaining, don't get me wrong. I have watched my fair share of episodes and they are quite inspiring. The question is though, are they creating unrealistic expectations for viewers?

Let's face it. When you watch an episode of these shows, they don't tell you have to reach these goals. In fact, they don't really teach you anything at all about losing weight, other than a screaming maniac woman can force you to do things you never thought your body was capable of doing before. The MTV series is a little better, but none of them give you the tools you need to make the progress on your own. They don't advertise that the people's calories are being drastically reduced or that they are working out 6-8 hours per day or more.

If anyone were to cut their calories that much and workout that often they would of course lose an insane amount of weight, but it is not a realistic expectation. As a mom of four boys, I know I don't have the time in my day to workout for 6 hours.

I fear that the people who watch these shows will try to take on too much and will become discouraged when they do not see the same results. There needs to be some sort of transparency here or a new series that focuses on teaching the right and realistic way to lose weight. These reality shows are good for entertainment value, but I wonder if they are doing more harm than good in some cases. You can visit my friend Cheryl to see how she utilized healthy weight loss measures to take off 60 pounds!

What are your thoughts?

You Might Also Like


  1. I think I agree with you here. I know I don't have time to work out 6 hours a day and I don't have a professional chef teaching me how to cook either. I'm sure if I did, I would be super fit, too!

  2. The problem with losing weight at the rate the contestants do on those shows is that if they do not maintain that level of activity, the weight will creep back up.

    That is why experts recommend no more than a 2 lb weight loss a week. It's so easy to go into "maintenance mode" when you reach your goal weight if you've been losing at 1-2 lbs a week.

    Personally The Biggest Loser motivates me and inspires me because these people are so overweight and they are being given to tools to "fix" the problem that caused the weight loss. Very few of them remain at their "finale" weight, they usually gain some because the schedule is unrealistic.

    Great topic Kathleen!

  3. I was just discussing this with my BFF. I think it definitely sets up unrealistic expectations for people who try to lose weight. It's obviously inspiring, but it sets people up for disappointment if they lose what's considered healthy (1-2 lbs a week), because they look at these people and think, "I should have lost 7+ lbs this week."

  4. I think about this often. These people are pushed and pushed to lose weight rapidly, and probably not exactly the most healthy either. I know i lost more than recommended each week, but I was doing it healthily. Some weeks I lost as much as 5 lbs, but my metabolism was definitely kicked in high gear. Honestly, if I can lose weight anyone can and I can be a great cheerleader!

  5. I've wondered this too. And what happens to these people after they leave the shows? Did they learn life long tools, or did they go back to their old ways because the show standards were so unrealistic? I'd love to see the contestants 6 mos after the show ends.

  6. although the circumstances of the show may be unrealistic. The purpose of the show is to motivate, want to be motivated. Also consider that people that lose weight the healthy way can also go back to old habits and gain some back. I think weight loss reality shows provide a much needed push to some viewers,the ones that are itching to change they clearly don't appeal to the ones that are caught up in what they can't do. they can just stay fat. i think for some seeing a drastic change sooner than normal is enough to motivat you to keep going. If i lose 50 lbs on no carbs and then start incorporating carbs i know i will gain some back as long as i dont over eat i've still lost a huge amount of weight. that is something to be proud of any way you slice it.



Stats and Resources