By: Francisco Morales Carbonell
The Biggest Loser, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) edition is being brought to life by a group of students with the motivation to lose weight.
The group of 14 students started the six weeks long competition, which started on January 28 and it will end on March 11.
Each participant paid a $3 inscription fee, which will go to fund the price of the winner of the competition. The winner will get $39 to be precise and the second place winner will get $3, which is considered as getting your money back as a consolation price, said Liz Navas, creator of the competition, participant and civil engineer student at UPRM.
“The motivation for the competition came from the fact that we all have the goal and desire to lose weight and when we usually start a routine of exercises we don’t have the motivation to stick with it”, said Liz.
According to their website, The Biggest Loser is an American reality show that debuted on NBC on 2004. The show features obese people competing to win a $250,000 cash prize by losing the highest percentage of weight relative to their initial weight.
The show has been highly criticized, in the article “On ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Health Can Take Back Seat” published by the NewYorkTimes.com on Nov 2009, Dr. Charles Burant, director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center said: “I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack. I had some patients who want to [follow the show’s regimen], and I counsel them against it. I think the show is so exploitative. They are taking poor people who have severe weight problems whose real focus is trying to win the quarter-million dollars.”
Other example of criticism is that the show gives a bad concept on how losing weight should really be. Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience.com senior writer on her article “’The Biggest Loser’ Has Big Problems, Health Experts Say” wrote: “Risks aside, weight-loss experts say that the biggest problem with the Biggest Loser is that extreme methods of dropping pounds are less likely to work in the long run. Several former Biggest Loser contestants have regained some or all of the weight.”
Even after all the criticism about how extreme some of the methods used to make the contestants lose the weight, The Biggest Loser has stayed on air for 14 seasons, even having video games in the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect systems.
When asked about the criticism about the concept of the competition, Liz responded: “Each participant will be responsible for keeping track of their progress, prepare a routine that works for them and a diet that the participant thinks it’s appropriate for them. Some participants have chosen to use a smartphone app called “Lose it!” as a tool, because you can keep track of the calories you have consumed and burn during the day.”
The contestants have a group on Facebook for the competition where the rules and goals of the competition are explained for reference. The group can’t be accessed easily, as you need to get invited in order to enter.