The Biggest Loser had tongues wagging when Rachel Frederickson, who began the reality TV show at 260 pounds, was crowned the winner after dropping an amazing 155 pounds.
The problem: most of the press coverage has been negative because Rachel showed up for the final episode looking gaunt and a tad unhealthy when she stepped on the scales at 105 pounds.
It begs the weight loss question: is too much of a good thing really a bad thing?
Some past winners stood by Rachel.
Season 11 winner Olivia Ward said: “Whether it's a healthy weight or not, it's not okay for people to put words on her like anorexic. That's disgusting. You're diagnosing without knowing her story," Ward said. "I feel so bad for her because it really robbed her of a special moment in her life."
Season 10 winner Patrick House said: "She did what she had to do. Rachel's transformation was like any Biggest Loser contestant. She had to do the best that she possibly could, and at the end of the day, there's a carrot dangling that's a quarter of a million dollars up for grabs."
But experts on eating disorders and disordered eating don’t like what they see.
Jennifer J. Thomas, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and the co-director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said, “If [Rachel] walked into our clinic tomorrow, we would be worried about her. I am very concerned at the message this will be sending our current patients. All this publicity, attention and money will reinforce those suffering out there from eating disorders.”
It’s important to note here that no one has said Rachel suffered any health issues – or that she has an eating disorder. But obsessive workouts and drastic weight loss – the mainstays of the popular TV show – are indeed symptoms of disorders.
New York psychologist Naomi Leib said,"...kids see these types of TV shows and movies celebrating being skinny and they think, ‘I will be loved more if I am thin like that,’ but they are killing themselves. It’s all about the competition out there to be perfect and look thinner, and The Biggest Loser is a show that literally feeds into that.”
Rachel reportedly dropped 60 percent of her body weight. Since she stands just 5-foot-4 that weight puts her BMI at 18 — a number below what the National Institute of Health considers a healthy minimum.
Rachel, 24, refuses to give in to the negative attention.
"I feel great," she said. "I've never felt this great, and it's very exciting! Now I'm really at maintenance mode, so now it's gonna be about doing a yoga class this day, a spin class this day, and I think I'm going to try dance classes because I don't have a lot of rhythm."
eDiets believes healthy weight loss averages out to just under 2 pounds per week. The result of drastic weight loss is often rapid weight REGAIN. Slow and steady, indeed, wins the race to a better lifestyle.
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.