The "Biggest Loser" reality show on NBC never shows the contestants heading off to McDonald's or Wendy's. And of course they never mention the cravings the people must get for food. In fact, the show barely mentions food at all. It's all about 10 hours a day of exercise.
But the NY Times reveals the contestants must make huge changes to their diets -- along with the unrealistic amount of exercise -- in order to lose weight. That's the real story the producers and trainers don't tell you. And that's the story all Americans can participate in. Very few of us can exercise with a dedicated trainer for 10 hours a day for eight weeks. But all of us can stop eating fast foods.
Some experts say it's nearly impossible to become morbidly obese eating home cooked food. But it's fairly easy to become obese stopping at Burger King several times a week, and even easier if you stop for breakfast and lunch.
Even if home cooking is of the fried-chicken-and-mashed-potatoes variety, it rarely produces extreme obesity, said Barry Popkin, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Almost any kind of cooking you can produce in a kitchen is healthier than fast food.” The decline of home cooking worldwide, he said, is an underlying cause of obesity.
“People are eating more, and more often,” Dr. Popkin said. “And the foods that they are consuming almost always replace meals cooked in a kitchen and eaten at a table.” It is difficult to quantify a decline in cooking skills, but many studies show that time in the kitchen has declined steeply since 1965, when American women spent a weekly average of 13 hours cooking. Last month the government of Britain, where obesity is spreading rapidly, passed a law requiring all secondary-school students to attend cooking classes.
“Twenty minutes in the kitchen will save you three hours on the StairMaster” said Devin Alexander, a chef in Los Angeles who developed the recipes for the cookbooks. “You can’t trust restaurant food to be low fat.”
There you have it. If you don't want to be the biggest loser, lose the fast food.