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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The biggest loser on Sahara: Should we have such programs ?

In the line of reality programmes that are popping up left, right and center, add a new one. This is a program called 'The Biggest Loser' airing on Sahara One on Friday, Saturday and Sunday right after Sahara's most popular serial 'Woh Rehne Waali Mehlon ki". All of the reality shows draw inspiration from the success of the original KBC on Star Plus that not only got very high ratings, but even pulled up other shows on the same channel. The biggest Loser is a copy of an international program that first started in 2004.
So what is the biggest loser all about ? It is about bringing together 2 teams of 16 people in total, and forming the Red team and the Blue team. For star quotient, you have Suneil Shetty as a fading Bollywood celebrity. These teams are under the control of personal trainers who make them follow a regime of diet and exercise in order to weight lose. But not everything is nice and sweet. The teams will be weighed every day, and the team that loses less weight at the end of the week will have to remove 1 player from their team till there are only 3 people left as finalists, and the ultimate winner will get the grand prize.
The program has got a heavy boost of advertising, with a lot of promos before the start of the show, and even now, there is an incredible amount of advertising on FM radio. Sahara really seems to believe that this will be the show that will bring it up. When you watch the show, already one person has been kicked out, and some of my worst fears are coming to light.
In order to make this a selling program, they will have to put in a large amount of emotion and drama, and you can assume that with the lure of money, there will be a lot of peer pressure, especially in a situation where one person can be seen as making a team fail.
So what are the things that can go wrong:
- Weight loss and gain is a very person dependent nature. It is nice to say that if a person eats less and does more exercise, then there will be a weight loss. This is however a very simplistic statement. Weight loss depends on a person's biology, their metabolic clock, and so on.
- Point related to the one above. People can not lose weight for weeks under a strict regime, and then start losing weight suddenly. Under the program situation, such a person would get kicked out very quickly.
- In India, people who are fat or obese suffer a lot of social pressure, with total strangers coming to them and offering about how to lose weight; if they go to social occasions where there is food, people will admonish them to eat less, and so on. In such situations, if a person gets kicked out for not losing weight,
then it is very likely that a person can conclude that even with trainers and diet regime, it is impossible to lose weight and be extremely disappointed.
- Slim people watching this show are more likely to go to fatter people and offer even more advise such as getting trainers or controlling their diet.
- There is a real risk of biological damage under a harsh regime. The human body needs to slowly settle into a new regime, not suddenly be exposed to massive changes. Under channel pressure, even expert trainers could be provoked into pushing these people much harder than necessary.
- One is not sure about the level of safety in such programmes. If you read this article by Sakshi, then you can see that unsafe events are happening.
There are some plus points of the programme, such as maybe pushing more people to take care of their bodies, but my overall impression is that of a channel willing to do anything to gain more ratings.

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