The Ultimate Loser

Social media sites have been pressed into overdrive this week by reaction to the season finale of “The Biggest Loser.” This is because a 24-year old woman, Rachel Frederickson, was declared the proud winner of the show by losing a record-breaking percentage of her total body weight.

Speaking of proud – we cannot even begin to imagine how profoundly proud the shameless producers of this show must be with this dangerous result. Indeed, what a coup. In a matter of mere months, they managed to successfully move this young woman out of one disordered-eating illness and well into another. Yesterday: compulsive overeating. Today: anorexia nervosa. No doubt about it: Rachel’s show-winning BMI falls within the diagnostic parameters for anorexia.

I wonder if Rachel or her loved ones have any idea that she went from one eating disorder that offers its own unique medical, emotional and physical risks to another that boasts the highest mortality rate of ALL psychiatric disorders. That’s right — people die from anorexia more than any other mental disease.

Not only did this contestant lose a shocking amount of weight, but she did it in a fast and unsustainable way. Of course, what they don’t tell viewers, since it just might damage ratings, is that this weight was lost in a way that put this woman at risk of cardiac compromise, liver inflammation, dehydration and other medical consequences.

Imagine the millions of vulnerable, unsuspecting viewers that actually bought into the notion that this weight loss was positive and healthy. After all, this is a show that cares deeply about the contestants and wants only for them to achieve health, fitness and wellness – isn’t that right?

Like so many of the other “lucky” winners that came before her, Rachel will likely be back up to, or exceed, her original weight within a year from now–that is, if she doesn’t die from complications of restrictive eating and over-exercise.

We hope the money she won for abusing herself will not be spent frivolously. It may prove invaluable in the future when her emotional well-being and physical body are so devastated by an eating disorder that she needs to seek professional treatment (with eating disorder specialists) simply to regain her health.