A Reflection of Reality? The Consumption and Reproduction of Obesity Discourses by The Biggest Loser’s Viewers Through Facebook

Sarah Gray, Courtney Szto


The Biggest Loser promotes itself as an avenue for ‘obese’ individuals to lose weight through exercise and diet modification with the end goal of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ (NBC, 2013). A driving premise behind The Biggest Loser is the idea that Western countries are in the midst of an ‘obesity epidemic’ and immediate action by all citizens is required. The purpose of this study was to provide insights into viewers’ consumption of the obesity discourses reproduced by The Biggest Loser, through the social media platform Facebook. Viewers’ Facebook posts were analyzed and categorized under the theoretical framework of biopedagogy. Data analysis observed that viewers’ Facebook posts reproduced obesity discourses concerning children, active or inactive citizens and inequalities. Facebook enables active participation of body surveillance and also serves as a multiplier of surveillance. The authors maintain that social media is a form of cultural texts; these texts reflect broader cultural understandings. Although some scholars argue that social media can facilitate movements of resistance, the authors observed that The Biggest Loser viewers reproduced obesity discourses. 


Biggest Loser; obesity; biopedagogy, reality television; social media; surveillance

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