The Biggest Loser hopes to nip America’s weighty issues in the bud, using Season 14 to tackle a sensitive topic: child obesity.
For the first time in the history of NBC’s reality show, three kids participate in challenges, work out and try to get healthy. That announcement lead to criticism prior to Sunday’s debut on Citytv and NBC, something host Alison Sweeney bristles at.
“It’s interesting to have people criticize without having even seen the show yet,” Sweeney said to media during a conference call. “The first thing we did was to take into consideration their age, how we could best help them and guide them. They aren’t ever on the scale, and they don’t work out in The Biggest Loser gym. They don’t live on the ranch. They have their own journeys and we’re teaching them to care for themselves in their environment, at home with their families, which is a huge task.”
The kids are 13-year-old Noah (Biingo) Gray, 16-year-old Sanjana (Sunny) Chandrasekar and 13-year-old Lindsay Bravo, a trio of teens whom producers refer to as “ambassadors of change.” Sunday’s two-hour debut finds the three heading up 15 adults divided into teams for the first physical challenge of the year. But where the adults huff and puff mightily in their quest to gain a five-pound advantage at weigh-in, Biingo, Sunny and Lindsay are used as coaches, cheerleaders and inspiration for the adult competitors. Departing at the conclusion of the challenge and heading home, Sweeney tells viewers they’ll return at various points during the season to update everyone on at-home progress.
Working with the children during Season 14 is Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, a childhood obesity expert and pediatrician, who ensures the kids are on track with their diets and are adhering to an age-appropriate workout regimen.
Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince are back as physical trainers, joined by Jillian Michaels. The brassy, brunette bundle of energy returns after taking a year off to work as a correspondent on Dr. Phil and The Doctors, and to be mom to two children. Michaels states in Sunday’s return that being a new mother impressed upon her the importance of teaching children about eating right and maintaining overall health.
It’s an issue Sweeney, also a mom to two, is eager to shine a light on this season.
“It’s an important issue for our country, and on a personal level I see kids all the time who are struggling with obesity,” she says. “It’s so important to start talking about it and figure out what we can do as a society to heal our kids.”
Let the healing begin.
The Biggest Loser returns Sunday, Jan. 6, at 9 p.m. ET on Citytv/NBC.