The Biggest Loser kicks off season 14 tonight on NBC with a two-hour show. The child obesity issue is addressed head on and sides have formed over it.
What's new on this latest season of The Biggest Loser on NBC?
Three young teens are among those who seek to break the cycle of obesity --- and Jillian Michaels returns. Audition video of one of the teenagers, Biingo Grey, 13 is posted below.
The issue of child obesity became controversial thanks to reactions to the "Let's Move" initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Lines were drawn. On one side are those that believe that a national conversation with massive media exposure is a good first step.
On the other side are critics who deemed the campaign a politicization of the issue and a didactic approach that would stigmatize overweight kids. Read: Sarah Palin wants Michelle Obama to lay off her desserts
Some who fall into the "I don't like it" category are fat acceptance advocates who are reported to be fearful that The Biggest Loser will only add insult to injury suffered by obese children.
The L.A. Times reported that The National Assn. to Advance Fat Acceptance told the newspaper, "I am concerned that The Biggest Loser promotes short-term weight loss and does long-term harm to the bodies, minds, and spirits of many of its contestants and viewers --precipitating eating disorders, weight gain, depression, and weight-based bullying,"
The key word is "bullying", which is the subject of another national campaign.
Execs behind The Biggest Loser reacted to that concern.
"We encourage people to tune in to "The Biggest Loser" on January 6 to see that the kid participants on the show will follow an age-appropriate program that emphasizes getting healthy rather than numbers on a scale. As you'll see, the kids are handled with great care,..."
It should be a bit of a relief to viewers and fans of the show who have watched as screaming and discipline were administered to the adult contestants in previous seasons.
In fact, there are none of the usual nerve producing moments prior to being weighed for the teenagers. They will not get on a scale or be subject to the boot camp-like exercise programs.
It's all about teaching kids there are alternatives to what they consume and to demonstrate the benefits of living a healthier life.
Whether that adds to the bullying that already permeates schools at every level remains to be seen, but starting family conversations about the subject seems to be a given.
Thirteen year-old Biingo Grey isn't fearful things will get worse. He wants them to get better as do his parents who fully endorsed his participation.
Silence hasn't worked and The Biggest Loser has decided to jump in with two feet to stir things up a bit.
You'll get your chance to have an opinion starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT tonight on NBC. Image: Wikimedia Commons/