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October 21, 2004 -- ON the first episode of NBC’s new weight-loss reality show, 12 contenders exercised up to six hours a day and ate so little, most easily shed more than 10 pounds. One managed to lose 22 — in a week. But real-life nutrition and fitness experts have TV viewers: Don’t try this athome. Such extreme loss “is not reality for most people,” says Kathleen Keller, a nutritionist at the New York Obesity Research Center. “It isn’t healthy from a psychological perspective, in terms of the pressures from the trainer, the withholding of foods or the massive restriction to win a game. “Most people have to lose within their real lives and it puts up an nrealistic picture of weight loss.” Cathy Nonas, a nutritionist and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, adds that shaving 15 to 20 pounds a week “can put you at significant risk for heart problems, gall
bladder problems and electrolyte loss.” “We’re sensationalizing on a very serious epidemic and its related

diseases. We’re not going to learn anything from this.” All that said, there’s no denying “The Biggest Loser” is great television. In the show — a nearly inevitable hit for NBC — a dozen overweight contenders go to heart-pounding, vomit-inducing, grueling lengths to win $250,000 by shedding the most blubber. There’s the murky “eat more diet” for one team and the “eat less diet” for another, which must be adhered to despite a steady supply of sausages, doughnuts and fried chicken. For most of the show, contestants in fat-baring outfits sweat

their guts out for five or six hours in the gym under the tutelageof ruthless drill instructors Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. They also bare their souls about issues like “man-boobs.”JD Roth, executive producer,

defends the show’s extreme tactics. “In the end, our show is about health. It’s about a healthier life,” he says, adding that contestants are supervised by off-camera medical doctors. He claims the constant temptation

with fattening food is deigned to “train their minds” to make good choices after the show is done, when most

weight-loss experts interviewed by The Post predict participants will balloon back up again. “It’s not to make fun, it’s to get them used to the real temptations, like not eating cake on somebody’s birthday in the office,”

says Roth. While nutritionist Keller disagrees with that approach, she doesn’t doubt that viewers will tune in.

“I think a lot of the people on the show will gain it right back, but I think it will be very popular,” she says. “It strikes a chord with so many people in the U.S.” Dr. Keith Ayoob, director of nutrition at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was quick to note the first week’s mammoth losses are deceiving. “It’s not 22 pounds of fat. It’s water. If they lose weight too fast, they’re going to lose muscle tissue. Healthy weight loss is focusing

on fat loss. And that comes off more slowly. “I hope this isn’t a freak show,” he adds. “This is not easy for these people to deal with. They have a lot of stuff going on, and, unfortunately, ratings don’t care.”
http://nypost.com/entertainment/32337.htm