‘Biggest Loser’: how much is too much?

by BRIANNA SICILIANO Photo/Video Editor

As Rachel Frederickson, 24, stepped  onto the stage at NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” finale Tuesday, February 4, some wondered if she had brought her journey too far.

Seven months ago, Frederickson stepped on “The Biggest Loser” ranch weighing in at 260 pounds. She had trouble doing many of the exercises that she has mastered throughout her journey.

The entire purpose of “The Biggest Loser” is for contestants to adapt to a healthy lifestyle and lose weight.

“I love watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ to see the insane transformations of each contestant. They are very inspiring and motivational,” said junior Giulietta Flaherty.

While the show is known for its dramatic weight loss transformations––most winners lose more than 50 percent of their body weight –Frederickson appeared extremely thin. The looks that trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels had on their faces reveal how shocked they were at her new body.

Transforming from 260 pounds to 105 pounds, Frederickson lost 59.62 percent of her body weight. At five feet five inches tall, her body mass index is at 17.5. Anything under 18.5 is considered by the National Institutes of Health to be underweight.

Michaels issued a statement Wednesday afternoon on social media on behalf of herself and her co-trainer Harper, saying, “Bob and I want to take a moment to congratulate all of the BL contestants on their hard work. We’re not comfortable commenting on Rachel’s journey because (we) weren’t her trainers and weren’t given an opportunity to work with her at any point. Any questions about the contestants on the Biggest Loser should be directed to the show’s producers.”

Frederickson dodged questions about whether she lost too much weight, but in an interview with People Magazine, she answered some of them. She said that she ate 1,600 calories every day and that her daily workout routine consisted of six hours.

According to Dave Broome, the executive producer of ‘The Biggest Loser,’ “Rachel passed all the required medical tests ensuring she was healthy.”

Broome said that all contestants were monitored throughout the seven-and-a-half-months, including the days before the final episode.

“Although Rachel’s journey might’ve been unhealthy, it has to be more healthy than her previous weight, right?” said sophomore Toni Rothchild.

BMI applies less on an individual level and is more utilized for population: many people, such as marathon runners or endurance athletes, have low BMIs and are perfectly healthy. Similarly, some people who eat well and exercise normally are just naturally thin.

However, losing a significant amount of weight while using unhealthy methods can be dangerous, said experts unfamiliar with Frederickson. Just as obesity is unhealthy, being underweight is unhealthy as well.

Severe weight reduction can result in hormone disruption or bone thinning (reduction in bone density) and can affect a woman’s fertility, as she stops menstruating, said Dr. Steven Lamm, weight management expert and medical director of NYU’s Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health, and Dr. Robert Kushner, clinical director of the Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity in Chicago.

Dolvett Quince, Frederickson’s trainer, admits this season’s weight loss was too much, and says he and Frederickson have discussed “getting her body back to a place where she has energy and muscle mass.”

Frederickson seems to agree: “I trained like an athlete for the finale,” she says. “Now I am a girl in her real life.”

What do you think about Frederickson’s journey? Do you think she went too far for her $250,000 prize?

#BriannaSiciliano #thebiggestloser #weightloss

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