If you’ve never watched The Biggest Loser, you’re missing out on one of the most fascinating aspects of how weight loss can affect your body and your lifespan.
The NBC show features weight-loss expert Dr. Rob Huizenga, an associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA. At the beginning and end of each season, he calculates each contestant’s “real age” based on their health condition.
It’s a formula that considers body fat percentage, medical history and activity level.
The results are jaw-dropping reality.
Take Patrick from Season 10. This 27-year-old doting husband and father clocked in at real age 49.
“It was a really bad feeling,” he said in a post interview online. “My responsibility as a father and husband is to take care of my family. I wasn’t doing a good job of taking care of myself, let alone taking care of them. It was disappointing.”
Obesity increases your risk of getting life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. For a lot of the contestants, the cold truth of how fat is killing them faster is enough to motivate them to lose weight and live for their families.
By the end of the season, Patrick had gained back 10 years of his life. When he won the finale – and $250,000 – he had dropped to 219 pounds from his initial weight of 400.
Many contestants are happily surprised during the course of the season when they lose enough weight to no longer need high blood pressure medication or carry the label of diabetes.
Another Season 10 contestant, Elizabeth, sat with tears in her eyes as Dr. H (his nickname on the show) told her that 52 percent of her body was solid fat. Those 166 pounds of excess hydrated fat were damaging her blood vessels and cells.
“I’m going to die soon,” she said.
“Sooner than you have to,” Dr. H replied.
And she heard him. By the show’s end, Elizabeth had lost 66 pounds of fat and gained 15 pounds of muscle.
“I stood up and made a change in my life,” she said.
Bon Secours is a local sponsor of this season’s The Biggest Loser.
Sources: The Biggest Loser
Learn more about Bon Secours Weight Loss Institute
Alice Warchol is a fitness instructor and freelance health writer