Center for Health Media & Policy finds other losers in "The Biggest Loser"

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See the Center for Health Media and Policy blog post about something that bugged them in last night’s “The Biggest Loser” TV program. Excerpt:

“What no one missed this week was the constant and prominent placement for Ford and their “Warriors in Pink” promotion, benefiting Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer fundraising juggernaut.

This included an infomercial within the show starring the host and two trainers urging viewers to complete monthly breast self-exams, a practice which results in more biopsies but no fewer cases of cancer.

Even on Komen’s own site, the considerable problems with the test are acknowledged.

So why are the three stars of The Biggest Loser telling millions of women to do the test? As a transition to a commercial for Ford, of course. Viewers should do a useless breast self-exam and then go buy a charity t-shirt from the Ford website. It’s just another example of the show’s shallow treatment of an important subject.”

This image came from Ford’s website:

Screen shot 2010-11-24 at 12.14.19 PM.jpg

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Comments (12)

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Ken Leebow

November 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

This is a very shallow show. Of course, it is very heavily edited, however, people who are that overweight should not be doing brutal exercises as shown.
While it might make for good TV, it makes for horrible advice to the viewer.
Ken Leebow
And during this time of thanks, Gary, thank you for all the good information.

Dr. Brooks

November 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

You are spot on. I cannot believe how much praise this show and theses hosts receive. They are doing debatable work at best.


December 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Ummm, sorry, but I’d be dead right now if I didn’t do breast exams, which found a locally advanced cancer that was completely missed on mammogram (even on the diagnostic mammogram performed AFTER I found it).
Don’t confuse population statistics with individual outcomes. Women should decide for themselves which risk they would rather take — unnecessary biopsy or missing a life threatening cancer. The majority of breast cancers in pre-menopausal women are found by the patient, not a mammogram.

Gary Schwitzer

December 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

The point you made – “Women should decide for themselves which risk they would rather take” – seems to be the very point the Center for Health Media & Policy was making. Women should decide based on complete and balanced information, not on an infomercial that urges viewers to do something. They called it a “shallow treatment of an important subject.”
This is an important decision for women to make based on being well-informed.


February 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm

The point of the monthly breast exam is to find cancers at an earlier stage, not to prevent cancers. It is ludicrous to judge the effectiveness of the exams on the basis of prevention.

    Gary Schwitzer

    February 6, 2012 at 10:26 am


    Thanks for your note. Not sure what you’re referring to. Prevention was never mentioned.