Was adding kids to 'The Biggest Loser' a good idea?

Yahoo Contributor Network

It isn't uncommon for "The Biggest Loser" to add a twist each season to keep viewers entertained and mix things up for the contestants. This season, the change is the addition of three overweight kids -- Sunny, Lindsay, and Biingo -- into the mix. Was adding kids to the show a good choice for "The Biggest Loser"?

The obvious first response is likely a resounding "yes!" Given the problems so many U.S. families face today in combatting childhood obesity, it seems a great concept to bring children on board with "The Biggest Loser" and help get them on the right track at a young age with exercise and healthy eating. The majority of participants on the "The Biggest Loser" do tend to lose a good deal of weight, and more importantly, develop better, healthier lifestyles that serve them well long after leaving "The Biggest Loser" ranch.

However in watching the new season of "The Biggest Loser," it does not seem that Sunny, Lindsay, and Biingo are receiving the full benefit of being on the show. While there are some smart changes that have been adopted for the kids, such as not allowing them to be voted off, there are other adaptations that may take away from their experience and success on "The Biggest Loser."

The most significant challenge the younger contestants face is that they are not living on "The Biggest Loser" ranch, but rather stay at home with their families. This could be a problem for the children, as it is usually the parents who purchase their food and have established a lifestyle where their kids were able to become overweight. When "The Biggest Loser" visited them at home, it was clear that both Sunny and Biingo's parents are overweight themselves, showing they too are struggling with issues relating to healthy eating and exercise.

While "The Biggest Loser" sent a nutritionist to the kids' homes, who proceeded to empty loads of junk food from their pantries and refrigerators into the trash, this is hardly a long-term solution and teaches them very little.

Sunny, Lindsay, and Biingo also do not receive the benefit of having "The Biggest Loser" trainers motivate them to exercise regularly. The kids visit the ranch sporadically, but that is no comparison to being there and developing a daily exercise habit.

It is understandable that these children would not travel to "The Biggest Loser" ranch and live there on their own, yet it seems the show could have made more of an effort to accommodate them and give them the full benefit of "The Biggest Loser."

They should have selected kids that had a parent who was able to travel with them and live at "The Biggest Loser" ranch with them, and tutors could have been brought on set to keep them on task with their schoolwork.

It is a good thing that these younger contestants don't face the stress of being voted off, but perhaps a positive incentive to get healthy would have been a nice motivator. For example, "The Biggest Loser" could offer them a college scholarship or a family vacation if they come within a certain percentage of their recommend BMI (body mass index).

Given the spotlight placed on Sunny, Lindsay, and Biingo by just being on "The Biggest Loser," they may very well trim down regardless. However, the show could have made a greater effort to really bring these kids into the fold and teach them healthy habits that would last a lifetime.

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