URGENT NEWS UPDATE ▪ ▪ Join Kantor & Kantor in the fight against weight stigma ▪ ▪ Let's stop First Lady Michelle Obama from appearing on THE BIGGEST

     
Kantor&Kantor
Join Kantor & Kantor in the fight against weight stigma
Let's stop First Lady Michelle Obama from appearing on THE BIGGEST LOSER
Find out what you can do to help!

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Why We Think It's a Bad Idea for Michelle Obama to Appear on "The Biggest Loser"

biggest loser

NBC's popular reality show, The Biggest Loser, has returned for its 15th season. The message in the show is clear: significant weight loss is good, fat is bad. While many people find this show to be wildly entertaining, we can't help but be horrified by the deliberate display of fat shaming and weight bias, excessive and dangerous measures for achieving weight loss, and the unfortunate and unrealistic body image standards endorsed. First Lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to be a featured guest on the show next month, and here's why we wish she wouldn't.

1. Unhealthy Methods to Weight Loss

The show has repeatedly set new benchmarks with their competitions for heaviest contestant (454, 476 and 526 pounds), fastest 100-pound weight loss (seven weeks), and most weight lost in one week (34 pounds). The extreme measures undertaken to accomplish this weight loss have justifiably caused concern within the medical community. Rapid weight loss is a very risky business, escalating the chances of developing gallstones, mineral deficiencies, loss of muscle tissues, and reduced bone density. Furthermore, suddenly taking on strenuous and excessive exercise can lead to dehydration, problems with electrolyte balance, stress fractures, and even cardiac complications. The show's focus on competitive weight loss is irresponsible, and lays dangerous groundwork for disordered eating and eating disorders within vulnerable participants. The bottom line: the weight loss methods used in this show are incredibly unhealthy, and this information should not be overlooked by the First Lady.

2. Body Shaming and Weight Bias

A recent study shows disturbing results: after examining the relationship between exposure to The Biggest Loser and increased weight bias, Domoff and colleagues (2012) found that participants in their study had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals, and they more strongly believed that weight is controllable. Participants in the study who had lower BMIs (and who were not trying to lose weight) had significantly higher levels of dislike of overweight individuals following exposure to the show. These findings confirm the persuasive impact the media, in this case The Biggest Loser, has on how we feel about anti-fat philosophies, weight bias, and body dissatisfaction. Shows like the Biggest Loser foster destructive ideas about body type, weight, and fat, and have become deeply embedded into our culture. In fact,some researchers have found that weight stigma (including fat talk) is so embedded among women, that it often reflects not how the speaker actually feels about her body but how she is expected to feel about it. Participation in this show by Michelle Obama grants unspoken approval to these damaging physical and emotional behaviors. This approval perpetuates the damaging way America understands weight, furthering body shaming and weight bullying.

3. Overly simplistic Message About Weight, Health, and Success

In 2012, Yoo JH (Department of Communication, University of Missouri) observed several important findings. One, individuals who were more concerned with their weight watched more episodes of The Biggest Loser. Two, watching The Biggest Loser lead to a greater belief of perceived weight control, meaning the idea that people are in complete control of their body weight. Why is this important? When people who watch The Biggest Loser reinforce the worth of weight and body type, as well as assume that weight is a controllable factor, then they begin to attribute obesity to personal responsibility…feeding into weight stigma, fat-phobia, and even obesity "panic." Without taking into account age, athletic background, muscle mass, ethnic background, genetics, or medical conditions, we are being taught to judge people based on weight and external appearance all the while assuming that weight loss is 1) easily attainable and 2) the solution to most problems. Weight loss on The Biggest Loser promotes simplistic, yet dangerously deceptive, ideas that persuade viewers into believing: that fat is bad, weight loss can be achieved if you push yourself to the extremes, weight loss is the answer to better health and happier (more attractive) people, and extreme measures taken to achieve weight loss are safe and entertaining.

While this show might be entertaining to many, it is hardly an inspiration to the population to which it bullies and shames into weight loss.

Michelle Obama's planned appearance on The Biggest Loser is most certainly a means to promote her Let's Move Campaign as an effort to fight childhood obesity. While we absolutely promote the health benefits and enjoyment of moving your body, we also subscribe to the Health at Every Size (HAES) principles. Very simply put, the Health at Every Size community acknowledges that good health can be attained independent of body weight, shape, and size. HAES is based on three sustainable and safe principles: accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes, eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, and finding the joy in moving one's body and becoming more physically vital.

Bingebehavior.com (support for people with impulse control disorders including binge eating disorder) encourages you to sign their petition in the hopes of convincing the First Lady to utilize the compassionate and powerful community support of professionals rather than the sensationalized, harmful platform of entertainment oriented shaming.

We encourage Michelle Obama to re-evaluate her participation with the Biggest Loser, and to collaborate with weight stigma advocates, eating disorder organizations, and research and treatment professionals on the healthiest ways to advance the Let's Move message.

Our hope is that we can begin to eliminate the weight stigma and fat phobia that invades our nation.

Let's begin here.

What You Can Do To Help

WHAT WE DO

Dealing with, and seeking treatment for eating disorders can be emotionally and financially devastating. When your health insurance company gives you a hard time, or when it denies payment for treatment, you may not know where to turn.
WE CAN HELP.

Kantor & Kantor represents individuals suffering from life-threatening eating disorders and dual diagnosis conditions, whose health plans refuse to pay for required treatment on the grounds that such life-saving treatment is "not medically necessary," only necessary at a lower level of care, or is limited by plan terms.

Kantor & Kantor is one of the most experienced and highly respected law firms dealing with the prosecution of claims against insurance companies. We represent clients whose insurance companies have failed or refused to pay claims arising out of Disability, Health, Life, Long Term Care and other liability insurance claims.

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

From the trenches,

Lisa S. Kantor
Kantor & Kantor, LLP
19839 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, Ca
91324

www.kantorlaw.net
(818) 886-2525

20110214 KANTOR LISA-200 pp ret L 57
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