Study: the Biggest Loser increases weight bias
In January's issue of the Journal Obesity, a Bowling Green Department of Psychology study: The Effects of Reality Television on Weight Bias: An Examination of The Biggest Loser.
From the abstract:
Weight-loss reality shows, a popular form of television programming, portray obese individuals and their struggles to lose weight. While the media is believed to reinforce obesity stereotypes and contribute to weight stigma, it is not yet known whether weight-loss reality shows have any effect on weight bias. The goal of this investigation was to examine how exposure to 40-min of The Biggest Loser impacted participants' levels of weight bias. Fifty-nine participants (majority of whom were white females) were randomly assigned to either an experimental (one episode of The Biggest Loser) or control (one episode of a nature reality show) condition... Participants in The Biggest Loser condition had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals and more strongly believed that weight is controllable after the exposure... Exploratory analyses examining moderation of the condition effect by BMI and intention to lose weight indicated that participants who had lower BMIs and were not trying to lose weight had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to The Biggest Loser compared to similar participants in the control condition. These results indicate that anti-fat attitudes increase after brief exposure to weight-loss reality television.
The Biggest Loser increases weight bias, especially among thin people. No big surprise.
And Michelle Obama is appearing on the show! I really want to think that Mrs. Obama means well. I want to think that she's a decent person, if a bit misguided. But the study above has been available for months, and even without it, isn't it obvious that The Biggest Loser is horrible? That the contestants are bullied? That the methods used to make them lose weight are unsustainable?
In the Huff Post, back in 2010: Michelle Obama On Bullying: Adults Need To Set Example. I guess she's changed her mind. If fat people are the targets, she thinks bullying is a-okay. What a disappointment.