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Kids on 'Biggest Loser' controversial

Jan. 6, 2013 at 4:25 PM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The new season of "The Biggest Loser" reality weight loss show will feature two 13-year-olds, sparking controversy, a fat-acceptance group said.

Season 14 will include the two young teens and a 16-year-old, causing The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance to denounce the move, accusing the show of attempting to "profit off the bullying and stigmatization of fat kids" the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

"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," Barbara Altman Bruno, a NAAFA advisory board member and clinical social worker, said. "That they are now involving teenagers is appalling"

A representative for the program urged people to watch the show Sundy to see its emphasis on health.

"The show itself is the best evidence of our intentions and approach," the show's representative said "As you'll see, the kids are handled with great care, support and encouragement to help them live a healthier lifestyle."

The addition of adolescents to the show is an attempt to start a national dialogue about obesity among youngsters, the show's representative said. The children are never weighed in or subjected to difficult workouts or low-intake diets, but are encouraged and shown how to become more active and make more healthful food choices, said the show's executive producer, Lisa Hennessy, who asked critics to reserve judgment until viewing the first episode.

A consultant for the show, Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, a New York childhood obesity specialist and pediatrician, said she believes providing children with the tools to make healthful choices are more likely not to develop eating disorders.

Dolgoff decried the lack of discussion regarding childhood obesity and said, "The silence is literally killing our children."

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