Melbourne: Copying excessive exercise and dieting depicted on popular reality TV programs could prove to be deadly, a medical expert has warned.
According to Brian Morton from the NSW Australian Medical Association, while this may look like a fast track to fitness, dieters are risking heart attacks by trying to copy extreme weight-loss measures portrayed on ‘The Biggest Loser’ and ‘Excess Baggage’.
“If participants are really high-risk -- if they’re overweight, they’ve been a smoker or their family history isn``t really good - then they’re sitting ducks for a heart attack,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Morton as saying.
Karen Inge, a dietician, said that participants on the shows were monitored but those trying to replicate their feats at home were risking their lives.
“You can die from being overweight, but also there are risks in very overweight people doing very strenuous exercise without actually being monitored,” Inge said.
“Dehydration is obviously very life-threatening, but so is having a lot of water without appropriate salt replacement,” she said.
Cronulla personal trainer Dan Adair, who appeared in three ‘Biggest Loser’ DVDs alongside the show’s trainers Michelle Bridges and Shannan Ponton, said the shows pushed people to their limits in the name of entertainment.
“The training they do is so intense from the start that people’s hearts and bodies aren’t ready for that,” Adair said.
“The last thing they have is those people``s best interests at heart,” he said.
Contestants on Ten’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ have been treated for dehydration and low pulse rates, while Artie Rocke, from the first series in 2006, had to have his gall bladder removed, with doctors telling him the rapid weight loss had caused gallstones.
Similarly, Britney Spears’ ex-husband and former back-up dancer Kevin Federline was hospitalised after suffering a suspected minor cardiac arrest during a training exercise for Nine’s ‘Excess Baggage’.
The 33-year-old, who weighs more than 100kg, had already been hospitalised for dehydration and exhaustion in an earlier challenge.
However, ‘Biggest Loser’ star trainer and author Michelle Bridges defended the program.
“Every person that’s ever come on our show that’s been on blood pressure medication has actually come off that medication,” she said.
“The people that have come on our show that have been type 2 diabetics have gone off all medication and are no longer diabetics,” she added.