New Year, New Weight-Loss Shows On the Way

Logo for MTV's latest.
Logo for MTV's latest.

The new year always signals a new beginning, whether you want it to or not.

It definitely will be for me, but I’ll tell you about all the coming changes in the next week or so.


Right now, anyone vowing to join me on the weight-loss wagon January 1 will find “motivation” everywhere. Just like the Christmas commercial season seems to debut before Halloween, the annual commercial dieting season is rushing to the fore ever earlier.

We used to have to wait until January 1 before grapefruit juice, tuna and iceberg lettuce went on sale – three foods I can no longer consume, by the way, because of the awful memories associated with them. Now, though, there are few weight-loss commercials sneaking in just before Christmas. I’ve just seen a few cereals, but it was surprising, nonetheless.


December 26, though, all bets are off, and the closer we get to January 1, the worse we’ll be made to feel about feel-good indulgences. This is the first time in, I dunno, decades, that I haven’t felt crushing guilt with each sip of eggnog or every bite of cookie. I have a healthier mindset, and I’m enjoying myself a great deal more.

I’m also asking for several pairs of sweats, exercise mat and a treadmill for Christmas, *LOL*.  I can’t say I need motivation, but for the rest of you . . .

From the network that brings us Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom comes I Used to be Fat. Not surprisingly, it bows December 29, two days before resolutions begin. It’s a weight-loss “reality” show that follows teens during the summer between high school graduation and their freshman year at college. There will be 10 episodes, total, brought to you by some of the folks behind Biggest Loser.

So, how much weight can these teens lose in, say, three months? The bar is set at 100 pounds.


Yes, you read that correctly.

The executive producer is telling everyone that “the kids who really dedicated themselves and really wanted this made changes that are staggering. We had multiple kids lose 100 pounds.”


Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture: Teens will now get to watch other teens lose as much as 100 pounds in three months, on a network with such great influence over its audience that Sixteen and Pregnant and Teen Mom have been accused of glamorizing teen pregnancy by making the girls they follow into tabloid stars. Each has Facebook pages and thousands of “fans.” The two shows are watched by millions of teens, making them the most successful in MTV history.

I’ve seen both shows, and I can’t say there’s anything glamorous about them. However, since they’re on MTV, I can understand how impressionable minds would see them as “stars.”


Does that mean the teens on I Used to be Fat will become stars in the eyes of millions of teens, too? Probably. Is that a good thing?

What do you think?

Until the rise of American advertising, it never occurred to anyone anywhere in the world that the teenager was a captive in a hostile world of adults.  ~  Gore Vidal


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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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