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'Biggest Loser' fans: Don't try this at home*

December 9, 2009 | 12:34 pm
Oklahoma native Danny Cahill handily won during Tuesday night’s Season 8 finale of the reality show "The Biggest Loser."  The father of two dropped a record-breaking 239 pounds*.  

But viewers, beware. As reporter Jeannine Stein points out, losing 55.58% of your body weight as Cahill did is not as easy as it looks -- especially when you're not on a ranch with a personal trainer and a camera crew filming your every move. On a more serious note, these types of shows mask the serious risks that come with extreme weight loss, Stein writes.

The Kaiser Family Foundation took it upon itself to perform a rigorous study of reality TV and the public health (looking at such shows as "Cold Turkey," "Dr. 90210" and, yes, "The Biggest Loser"). Viewers, the report noted, who try to model their life changes on TV set themselves up for failure. “Such people may be less likely to commit to the long-term and much more gradual changes that are recommended by health professionals.”

Healthy change takes time. There’s a dose of reality, minus the TV.

-- Amina Khan

[*Updated: An earlier version of this story stated that Cahill lost 239 pounds over the course of three months. The contestant spent three months at the ranch but lost weight over a longer period of time.]