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One of Australia’s top nutritionists has criticised popular weight-loss reality shows The Biggest Loser and Excess Baggage, saying they are unrealistic and unhelpful.
Rosemary Stanton, a visiting fellow at the University of NSW school of medical sciences, said the shows perpetuated the myth that losing a lot of weight over a short time worked.
Dr Stanton said the reality was that a kilogram a month was the type of weight loss that worked in the long term. Other messages set dieters up to fail.
“You can’t lose 5kg in five weeks and expect to keep it off, and in these shows these people have to lose a whole person,” she said.
“These are really obese people, not people who just have to lose a few kilograms, so the pressure is on to lose a lot of weight quickly. These competitions are awful because you have one winner and you have to wonder what happens to the other people.”
Dr Stanton said competitors often had other issues in their lives that had led to an emotional attachment to food.
“If you pull that away from them, you leave them a floundering wreck, and when they get kicked out they’re just another failure,” she said.
Her comments come after the Public Health Association of Australia warned people against going on popular weight-loss diets, saying Australians were now spending about $800 million a year on diet cookbooks, low-energy shakes and surgery.
The association said the weight-loss industry was working overtime to sell its quick-fix diets.
Dr Stanton said people lost weight on television shows just as people dropped weight on crash diets, which mostly did not last.
“Nothing will work unless you can do it permanently and none of these diets or TV shows is permanent,” she said. “It might work for the odd person but most people will fail.”
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