Image via Channel 10.
In last night’s episode of TBL Families, Dr Norman Swan sat the contestants down and informed them all of their “body age” to show how obesity had aged their bodies.
While most contestants discovered their bodies were over 10 years “older” than they should be, the show took 28-year-old Sylvia’s results “reveal” one step further, forcing trainer Tiffiny Hall to wear Sylvia’s “excess” weight strapped to her body.
Visibly straining to carry the 80 kilogram vests, Hall struggled.
“Oh Syl – this is disgusting. I hate this, I hate this feeling. Sylvia – this is painful,” she said.
As the cameras panned to Sylvia’s face, she was distraught. Crying with her head in her hands.
"Seeing Tiffiny put on all that extra weight - my extra weight - it nearly killed me," she said.
"I've never been more embarrassed in my life seeing Tiffiny barely breathe, she could barely walk and to know that's my daily life."
"It's more humiliating than helpful. When someone is humiliated, it causes them to feel even more down and upset about their body image and self esteem which can seriously affect their motivation to lose weight," explains Sydney psychologist Maria Faustino.
"I'd be interested in whether the purpose of the move was to motivate the contestant or whether they were just trying to get people talking."
Of course it's important to increase awareness about how carrying extra body weight can be detrimental to health, but Dr Yuliya Richard of Blue Horizons Counselling argues there are better ways to go about it.
"Reducing the problem to a negative remark is not helpful - being positive and optimistic is more beneficial. People need to know that they deserve to be healthy and live the life they want to live," she says. (Post continues after gallery.)
Focusing on internal motivations such as a healthy and happy future can often work as a more lasting source of motivation, rather than external factors like, you know, humiliation on national television.
Dr Richard recommends taking a holistic approach that deals with any underlying issues that could be contributing to the problem, such as relationship breakdowns, rather than just focusing on the aesthetic aspects of someone's health.
"Exercise, psychological intervention, counselling, lifestyle adjustments and positive self-belief should be considered when addressing weight management issues," she says. (Post continues after video.)
Sadly this "embarrassing" treatment of contestants isn't isolated. Earlier in the season, trainers were forced to eat the same diet as their contestants which resulted in Michelle Bridges citing she was "pissed off" about her subsequent weight gain.
“The Biggest Loser is pretty famous for not only fat shaming but food shaming, especially when they’ve got a whole bunch of the person’s typical food and laid it out in front of them like a stick to beat them with,"Accredited Practising Dietician and Nutritionist Nicole Senior also previously told The Glow.
“We need to avoid establishing a ‘food fight’, if you like, where it’s a constant battle. It’s more helpful if we disassociate food from emotions, especially emotions such as guilt.”
Do you agree with the show's approach to weight loss and health?