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"It's very difficult to sustain." While researchers aren't sure if repeated cycles of weight lost and weight gained are more dangerous than staying overweight or obese, the psychological toll of failing to keep weight off can be grim, said Kushner.People often feel like failures and become hopeless about their health.Losing weight rapidly can be risky, according to Virginia Tech professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise Janet Walberg Rankin.

For one thing, contestants start out in worse shape than most. adults, or 72 million people, are considered obese with a BMI of 30 or higher, according to the CDC.The show, which takes obese Americans and pits them against each other in a battle to lose the most weight and win 0,000, thrives on extreme numbers.But physicians and nutritionists worry the show's focus on competitive weight loss is, at best, counterproductive and, at worst, dangerous.Seventeen of the 22 contestants have a body mass index over 40, meaning they are severely obese. But research published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the number of Americans with a BMI over 40 is just under 6 percent. Contestants work out five to six hours a day, eating strictly supervised diets. The contestant who loses the smallest percentage of body weight can be sent home.In other words, the show's claim that the contestants are the "epitome" of American obesity is a bit like saying that VH1's "Rock of Love with Bret Michaels" epitomizes the American dating scene. In reality, said physician Robert Kushner, the clinical director of the Northwestern University Comprehensive Center on Obesity, a safe rate of weight loss is about one to two pounds per week.

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