Should ‘The Biggest Loser’ Reboot Even Bother?: Former ‘Losers’ Who Gained It All Back

A new, improved version of The Biggest Loser premieres on USA Network next month on Jan. 28. The original program ended its run on NBC in 2016.

Contestants from Season 17 of NBC's 'The Biggest Loser'
Contestants from Season 17 of NBC’s ‘The Biggest Loser’ | Tyler Golden/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

The question, however, is why? Why bring back this show that has only temporarily helped contestants fix the problem of obesity and the health problems associated with it? It’s well-documented now that a good majority of the contestants on The Biggest Loser gained back all the weight they’d lost.

Is a new version going to change things? Find out what’s going to be different about the show’s reboot.

This isn’t really the first reboot of ‘The Biggest Loser’

The Biggest Loser went off the air in 2016. That same year, The New York Times published findings by the journal Obesity, which kept track of 14 contestants before and after a season of the show. The study found that just one of the fourteen weighed less than when they had started the show. All the others had gained the weight – and more- back.

A year after the show’s ending and the published study, executive producer JD Roth created and produced The Big Fat Truth on Z Living network. The show featured Biggest Loser former contestants who had regained and sought to help these men and women understand the behaviors and patterns that had led them to fail at weight loss.

‘The Biggest Loser’ producer JD Roth with former show trainer Jillian Michaels

Roth said on the program that year, “How do you get lucky enough to get a lottery ticket to be on The Biggest Loser, lose all the weight, end up on the cover of People magazine, and then gain it all back? So is it your metabolism? Or is it your choices? . . .This series is proof that the mind is the gateway to transforming the body.”

It’s unknown if the contestants from this program saw lasting change or not. Hopefully, being on The Big Fat Truth helped them create new behaviors leading to positive consistency in their health.

‘Losers’ who gained it back

Ryan Benson won the first season of the popular weight loss show on NBC, gained back so much he returned to his pre-Biggest Loser weight, and then appeared on The Big Fat Truth.

“In my mind, I just thought ‘I’ve been training so hard I want to eat something I craved for a few months — a burger, fries, some ribs’,” Benson told Business Insider in 2017. “That was one of the things that propelled me to the finish line. I thought, ‘when I’m done I’m going to get this.’ It was a reward.”

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Season 8 contestant on ‘The Biggest Loser’ Danny Cahill participating in a study with the National Institutes of Health

Danny Cahill, winner of Season 8, had one of the highest weight loss successes, incredibly losing over 200 pounds in 30 weeks. As most recently reported, Cahill had regained 100 pounds. He spoke with ABC News in 2016 about the shame he felt when he gained back some of his weight and his sense of validation at the Obesity journal study.

“When you gain weight back, even when you’re in school it’s shameful,” said Cahill. “. . . in front of America, . . . it’s 10 times as shameful. When we found [out about the journal study] we were like, ‘Okay, some of it is not our fault.’ It is our responsibility but some of it has to do with this science.”

Is the new ‘The Biggest Loser’ going to be any different?

It will remain to be seen if the reboot of the show will produce different, lasting results in contestants who are placing their hope in this public effort. Bob Harper, former Biggest Loser trainer and now host of the upcoming reboot, is confident that this time around, the show will more thoughtfully be going to the root of contestants’ issues with food and weight.

He told People in December 2019 that the new version of the show is “not about getting skinny, it’s about getting healthy. You see people getting off medication, reversing their type 2 diabetes, lowering their blood pressure.”

Harper is especially excited about a major change to the revamped show: the aftercare. Whether they win or lose, each contestant gets a free membership to Planet Fitness, visits with a nutritionist, and group support in their hometown. These really are huge changes that may help contestants maintain their weight loss.

“The hardest part is keeping it off,” he explained. “This is going to be something that they have to work on for the rest of their life, and I wanted to make sure that they have the aftercare and the support.”

Catch ‘The Biggest Loser’ premiere Jan. 28 on USA Network.

Read more: ‘The Biggest Loser’ Reboot: Meet the New Trainers – One of Them Dropped 160 Pounds