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The Biggest Loser
Format Reality TV
Created by Dave Broome
Presented by Caroline Rhea (2004–2006)
Alison Sweeney (2007–present)
Starring Bob Harper
Jillian Michaels (2004–2005, 2007–present)
Kim Lyons (2006–2007)
Narrated by J. D. Roth
Composer(s) Jeff Lippencott and Mark T. Williams, Ah2 Music
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 98
Running time 120 minutes
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original run October 19, 2004 (2004-10-19) – present
External links
Official website

The Biggest Loser is an American reality television show that began broadcasting on the NBC network on October 19, 2004. Season 9 premiered on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 8/7c.[1]



The basic premise of the show is that obese people become contestants who are competing to win $250,000 (originally $100,000) by losing the highest percentage of weight (originally, the winner was to lose the highest amount of weight in pure numbers, but this was later changed to the highest percentage of weight in order to evenly rebalance the playing field). The first season began with 12 contestants, while the second season began with 14. The third season began with 50 contestants, one from each state (14 on the Ranch). The fourth season began with 18 contestants divided into 3 teams. The fifth season began with ten teams of two people each, and the sixth seasons began with 8 teams of two. The seventh season began with 11 teams of two, and the ninth season is expected to start the same way. The 8th season saw the return of the original format, with individuals competing for the grand prize. But like the previous 3 seasons, they were divided up into teams of two, with each contestant choosing a team partner.

In the first three seasons, contestants were housed on a large ranch that offered plenty of indoor and outdoor space, a pool and a fully equipped gym. In the fourth season, the ranch was changed and renamed college campus, known on the show as the Biggest Loser Campus. In the sixth season, the contestants' setting reverted to a ranch.

At the start of each season, contestants are grouped into teams and each team is assigned a personal trainer. For the first 3 seasons and seasons five through seven, there were two teams and two trainers, while the fourth season featured three teams and three trainers. The trainers are responsible for designing and teaching to the contestants comprehensive workout plans and nutrition plans. It is up to the contestants, however, how much or how little of the nutrition plan to implement, and how much of the workout plan they follow when the trainer is not present.

The season starts with a weigh-in to determine the contestants' starting weights. Each week culminates in another weigh-in to determine which team has lost the most weight for that week, in percentage of total weight lost. The team that has lost the lower percentage during that week must vote off one member of the team.

When the number of contestants has shrunk to a predetermined smaller number (unknown to the contestants), the teams are dissolved, which also happens when the couples teams are determined. The contestants or teams compete one-on-one against each other, although they continue to work with their original trainers. Each week still culminates with a weigh-in, now with the two people or couples who have lost the least percentage of weight being the ones who can be voted on for elimination.

The trainers are motivated to 'push' their individual contestants by a predetermined bonus structure, with the winning contestant's trainer taking home over $100,000.

Motivations for the contestants are similar. People who have been eliminated still try to lose weight as they are competing for the "At Home" prize of $100,000. The finalists however continue to lose weight with the show's trainers and will eventually compete for the larger prize of $250,000. Both are awarded at the "Finale". The number of episodes directly correlates to the number of weeks the "finalists" spend working with their trainers. Once the last episode of a season is shot and the finalists are selected, these remaining contestants are sent home to continue their weight loss training on their own. Once all of the "episodes" have aired, all of the contestants are brought back to measure their progress before the awards are given. The amount of time the finalists receive before a finale occurs varies from season to season.

Episode format

Each episode follows a similar format:

  1. Temptation. Contestants prepare for the first day of the week only to find a situation that involves temptation. The temptation usually requires contestants to gamble by eating or drinking delicious but high-calorie foods in exchange for what may seem to be a beneficial trade-off. The benefits may or may not be known to the contestants in advance. Examples include eating sweet foods for a chance to call their loved ones, eating a big slice of cake to win an unknown prize (which, in one episode, turned out to be an exercise bike) or giving up time with trainer for a chance to win thousands of dollars. Contestants are given a set amount of time before the offer passes.
  2. Reward challenge. Contestants compete to win a prize, first as teams and then as individuals after the teams are dissolved. After the challenge, viewers are shown the winning team savoring their reward while the losing team bitterly accepts their loss. Prizes range from immunity to exercise equipment to phone calls home to "Pound Passes", that allow the holder to have a greater weight loss at the Weigh-In (eg. a 6 lb weight loss would result in a 7 lb weight loss if a contestant were to win a "1 Pound Pass"). If the teams aren't even then the team that has more players must choose a certain number of players from that team to sit out.
  3. Last Chance Workout. The last chance workouts are often shown as grueling, final preparations for the weigh in. This is a real test of strength and trainers push contestants to their limits.
  4. Weigh-in. All contestants are weighed to determine the amount they have lost relative to their total body weight. During team-based competition, the team that loses the highest percentage wins and the losing team must send one person home. When the teams are dissolved and the show becomes an individual competition, the two contestants who lose the lowest percentage of weight are eligible for elimination. A similar setup to individual-based weigh-ins happens when the two initial teams are broken up into four teams of two or three, as happened in the second and fourth seasons.
  5. The vote. The losing team meets in a dining room that has refrigerators labeled with each contestant's name, and filled with that contestant's favorite tempting foods. The name of each contestant is illuminated, and as people are voted out, the light for their name is extinguished. During the team-based competition, losing members each carry a covered plate containing the name of the person they wish to vote out. The team members who lost the highest percentage of weight that week are considered immune and may not be sent home. In the event of a tie, the winning team decides which member of the losing team shall be voted out. During the individual-based competition or the couples-based competition, the fate of the two contestants or teams on the chopping block will be determined by the other players. In the event of a tie, the contestant or team who lost the least percentage of weight is eliminated, except if both of the contestants or teams lost the least percentage of weight.


For the first three seasons, the show was hosted by Canadian comedian Caroline Rhea. Beginning with the series' fourth season, Rhea was replaced with actress Alison Sweeney from the soap opera Days of our Lives. Creator/executive producer J. D. Roth is the narrator of the series.

Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Kim Lyons are personal trainers assigned to help the competitors. Michaels was a personal trainer for the first two seasons and the special editions, but was replaced with Lyons in season 3. The reason for her departure, according to an interview in WHO magazine,[2] was she was unhappy with the way she was portrayed. Both Michaels and Lyons returned to the show in the fourth season, with Michaels training a third Black team.

For the Fifth season, Michaels became the lone female trainer. According to Rene Lynch of the Los Angeles Times, Lyons stepped back from the program to finish personal projects that she had already started before signing on, including a video series. She is currently not sure whether she will be a part of the show in the future.[3]

Dr. Rob Huizenga, an associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA, serves as the medical consultant for the show.[4]

Regimen and risks

I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack. I have had some patients who want to [follow the show's regimen], and I counsel them against it. I think the show is so exploitative. They are taking poor people who have severe weight problems whose real focus is trying to win the quarter-million dollars."[4]

—Dr. Charles Burant, director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center

At the end of every telecast, the following disclaimer is shown:

"Our contestants were supervised by doctors while participating in the show, and their diet and exercise regimen was tailored to their medical status and their specific needs. Consult with your own doctor before embarking on any diet or exercise program."

The weight-loss regimen used in the show—severe caloric restriction combined with up to six hours a day of strenuous exercise—involves risks including a weakening of the heart muscle, irregular heartbeat and dangerous reductions in potassium and electrolytes.[4] Contestants are required to sign a release that say "“no warranty, representation or guarantee has been made as to the qualifications or credentials of the medical professionals who examine me or perform any procedures on me in connection with my participation in the series, or their ability to diagnose medical conditions that may affect my fitness to participate in the series."[4] Contestants, regardless of their weight, are required to certify that they believe they are "in excellent physical, emotional, psychological and mental health."[4]

The Biggest Loser: Second Chances included a one-mile foot race in its first week, an event that led to the hospitalization of two of its contestants; Rob Huizenga, the show's medical consultant, when asked about the foot race said that "If we had it to do over, we wouldn’t [have done] it" and noted that in response, the show's producers have "changed a lot of the way [they] do things" (including the close monitoring of contestants’ body temperatures during exercise).[4]

Because the show is a contest that involves eliminations from it, some contestants are encouraged to take risks that endanger their health. Ryan C. Benson, the winner of the program’s first season, publicly admitted that "he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood."[4] Kai Hibbard, the runner-up from the third season, has "written on her MySpace blog and elsewhere that she and other contestants would drink as little water as possible in the 24 hours before a weigh-in" and would "work out in as much clothing as possible" when the cameras were off.[4] Two weeks after the show ended, Hibbard had gained about 31 pounds, mostly from staying hydrated.


Seasons two and three of the Biggest Loser have been filmed at the Hummingbird Nest Ranch.[5] The 123-acre (0.50 km2) ranch is an equestrian estate in Simi Valley, California. Recent seasons have been filmed at the Malibu Creek State Park.[6]


Name Airdates Ep# Contestants Synopsis The Biggest Loser At-Home Winner
Season 1 October 19 – December 14, 2004 10 12 Featured 12 contestants divided into two teams, the Red team and the Blue team. The Red Team was coached by trainer Jillian Michaels, while The Blue Team was coached by trainer Bob Harper. The eventual winner of the $250,000 grand prize was Ryan, with a total weight loss of 122 pounds (37%). Ryan Benson Dave Fioravanti
Season 2 September 13 – November 29, 2005 12 14 Featured fourteen contestants divided into two teams based on gender. Season two introduced the change that weigh-ins would be won or lost based on the percentage of total weight lost, rather than on the number of pounds lost. This change was made to create a more even playing field among contestants of varying weights. Matt was the eventual winner.

Contestants Suzy Preston and Matt Hoover (third place finisher and winner, respectively) began dating after the show and later married (revealed in an interview on Larry King Live). In 2007, they had their first child together, and just over one year later, they had another child.[7]

Matt Hoover Pete Thomas
Season 3 September 20 – November 29, 2006 12 16 Involved the largest cast ever, with 50 contestants initially beginning the show, each representing one US state. Kim Lyons joined the show, replacing Jillian Michaels as the Red Team trainer for only one season. After the initial group weigh-in and exercise, 14 contestants were selected to stay on the ranch and the other 36 contestants participated by losing weight at home. Later in the season, at-home players who lost the most weight were brought back to rejoin the cast on the ranch.[8] Erik Chopin Brian Starkey
Season 4 September 11 – December 18, 2007 15 18 In February 2007, it was announced that Caroline Rhea was leaving the show, to be replaced by Days of our Lives actress Alison Sweeney.[9] It was also announced that there would be three teams (named for the color each team member would wear: blue, red, or black), with Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Kim Lyons returning as personal trainers. One of the contestants for this season was Amber Walker, a paramedic from Pasadena, Texas, who won a viewer vote among potential candidates on the April 23, 2007, edition of NBC's Today,[10] even though the other three choices (Jez Luckett, Lezlye Donahue, and David Griffin) were eventually chosen as contestants as well.

The winners were each twins: Jim, a contestant who had been voted off won the prize for the eliminated contestants. Bill won the grand prize of $250,000 and was pronounced The Biggest Loser by Sweeney.

Bill Germanakos Jim Germanakos
Couples January 1 – April 15, 2008 16 20 20 contestants competed on 10 teams, each paired with a loved one, co-worker or friend with the exception of one team of strangers. Alison Sweeney returned as host for her second season. Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels returned to train the contestants.

Bernie won the eliminated edition, losing 130 pounds and winning $100,000. Ali Vincent lost the biggest percentage of weight and became the first female biggest loser of the US series, beating Roger and Kelly. However, internationally, she is not the first female biggest loser; the first female biggest loser is Jodie Prenger from the UK's second season.

Ali Vincent Bernie Salazar
Families September 16 – December 16, 2008 13 16 16 contestants competed in pairs, fewer than in the previous season. Four teams consisted of married couples, training with Bob, while the other four were parent/child teams training with Jillian. Alison Sweeney returned as host for her third season.

On December 16, 2008, Michelle Aguilar was declared the Biggest Loser after beating Ed Brantley and Vicky Vilcan at the finale. She lost a total of 110 pounds, or 45.45 percent of her body weight, winning the $250,000 grand prize. Heba Salama was awarded the $100,000 prize for the eliminated contestant with the largest percentage of weight loss after losing 138 pounds, or 46.94 percent of her body weight.

Michelle Aguilar Heba Salama
Couples 2 January 6 – May 12, 2009 19 22 Included the heaviest man ever on The Biggest Loser, Daniel Wright, weighing 454 lb. It also included the oldest participants ever, at age 63 years. It had also been declared by the group doctor to be the sickest group of contestants ever, with 45 different medications being taken by them. With 22 people initially on the ranch, it also featured the largest number of on-ranch contestants ever on the show. It was won by 48 year old Helen Phillips who lost 140 pounds or 54.47 percent of her body weight. Helen Phillips Jerry Hayes
Second Chances September 15 – December 8, 2009 13 16 16 contestants competed. The season once again started off with different colored teams, but is the first since season 4 to have a non-couples start-off. It includes the heaviest woman and person ever on The Biggest Loser, Shay Sorrells, weighing 476 lb[11] as well as returning contestant Daniel Wright. Danny Cahill Rebecca Meyer
Couples 3 January 5, 2010 – May 2010 TBA 22 The upcoming ninth season of The Biggest Loser premiered January 5, 2010, with a format similar to the last couples season. A promo for the new season was shown during the Season 8 finale. This season will have the heaviest contestant ever: 526 pound Michael Ventralli, as well as the heaviest couple: Twins James (485 lbs) and John (484 lbs), at 969 lbs. [12]/[13] TBD TBD


A spin-off of The Biggest Loser, The Biggest Loser: Special Edition features a team of people competing against another team, with each competition airing in two one-hour episodes. They spend 11 days on the ranch working with Bob and Jillian and then return home to continue to lose weight. The announced groups included "family vs. family", where two families with restaurants of different cultures competed to lose weight, "engaged couple vs. engaged couple", and "Marines vs. Navy". Each episode featured one of the mini-competitions from start to finish.

International versions

The franchise has since been exported to various International versions such as Australia (4 seasons), UK (3 seasons), South Africa (1 season), Netherlands (5 seasons), Brazil (2 seasons), Germany (1 season), Hungary, India, the Middle East, Israel, The most recently, Mexico, Poland and Asia.


An Asian version of The Biggest Loser has acquired by The Hallmark Channel Asia, auditions will take place on the official website of The Biggest Loser Asia via submission of an application form and 4 minute audition tape. They will also have on ground auditions on the following fitness first venues: Singapore's The Cathay, Malaysia's The Curve , Indonesia's Platinum Pacific Place, and The Philippines' SM Megamall. The Biggest Loser Asia premiered on November 24, 2009 on The Hallmark Channel.


An Australian version of the program first aired at 7.00pm each weeknight on Network Ten from February 13, 2006. A total of four seasons have now aired in Australia, and a call for entrants for a fifth season has begun.


SBT has also aired a version in Brazil, called O Grande Perdedor. Silvio Santos hosts. In 2007, the network revamped the show, under new name Quem Perde, Ganha (He who loses, wins) and host Lígia Mendes.


ProSieben is currently airing a version (also called The Biggest Loser) hosted by Katarina Witt. The first season's finale will air on February 7, 2009.


TV2 aired a Hungarian version of The Biggest Loser in autumn 2007, called A Nagy Fogyás.


The channel, Sahara One, has also started airing a version of The Biggest Loser. The show is called "Biggest Loser Jeetega" (Biggest Loser Wins). The first season piloted in the month of May 2007 with 16 contestants, finishing in September 2007.


Channel 10, in Israel, has also aired a version of The Biggest Loser, named there Laredet Begadol (To Lose Hugely). Three seasons were aired so far. One of the trainers is Nadav Meirson.

Middle East

The Arab MBC 1 Channel started a version of The Biggest Loser which is called "The Biggest Winner" (Arabic: الرابح الأكبر‎).


Televisa is airing a version, which is called ¿Cuánto quieres perder? (How much do you want to lose?), started on May 18, 2008.


There have been 5 seasons of a Netherlands version (De Afvallers), which airs on SBS 6.

South Africa

The first season premiered on January 7, 2008 and finishing on April 14, 2008, airing on

United Kingdom

A British version of the program first aired on Living TV on October 6, 2005, and a second season followed in 2006, these first two seasons followed a similar format to the first few seasons in the US with a red team versus a blue team. The third season aired on ITV1 between April and June 2009, using the new 'couples' format.


The Biggest Loser is Nominated for a award at the 36th People Choice Awards.[14]

Year Nominated work Award Result
2009 The Biggest Loser Favorite Competition Show Nominated


  1. ^ Gina DiNunno. "NBC Announces Midseason Schedule". 
  2. ^ Jillian Michaels sounds off! –
  3. ^,0,782528.story?coll=cl-tv-features
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Edward Wyatt (November 25, 2009). "On ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Health Can Take Back Seat". The New York Times. via The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 2009-11-26. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Alison Sweeney Joins 'Biggest Loser'". 
  10. ^ "Did you choose the 'The Biggest Loser'? - Today Show -". 
  11. ^ "Fattest Cities Possible for Season 8 in the Fall of '09". 
  12. ^ "A record 239 pounds it all". 
  13. ^ "The Biggest Edition Of 'The Biggest Loser". 
  14. ^ "The Biggest Loser Nominated For People's Choice Award". 2009-11-02. http://www. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 

External links



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