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A Decade of The Biggest Loser: Bob Harper Looks Back

Biggest Loser 10th anniversary

Jen Widerstrom, Bob Harper, Alison Sweeney, Jessie Pavelka and Dolvett Quince help celebrate The Biggest Loser’s 10th anniversary with a fruit and veggie cake — of course! Credit: NBC

Can you believe The Biggest Loser is 10 years old? Since 2004, 310 people have walked in and out of The Biggest Loser ranch, losing 33,000 pounds.

A Few Fun Facts About the Show

biggest loser season 9 winner michael ventrella

Season 9 winner Michael Ventrella was the heaviest contestant to date. Credit: NBC

  • Heaviest contestant: Season 9 winner Michael Ventrella, who started the show weighing 526 pounds.
  • Oldest contestant: Season 7 at-home winner Jerry Hayes, 63.
  • Youngest contestant: This season’s contestant Blake Benge, 18, who’s still in it to win it.
  • First female winner: Season 5’s Ali Vincent, who has gone on to host her own healthy living show, Live Big With Ali Vincent on the Live Well Network. We met up with her a few months ago and she still looks fantastic and radiates motivation.
  • Love connections: Four marriages, two engagements and quite a few romances, with the “pioneers” in that group being season 2’s Matt and Suzy Hoover, who are married and have two sons.

Over all 16 seasons, one thing has remained constant — trainer Bob Harper. He’s been with the show since its very first episode (back when the host was Caroline Rhea), and when we talked with him last week, he said he is committed to the show and what it stands for.

“What keeps me coming back season after season is the people that come on to our show, first and foremost,” Harper said. “It’s completely new, completely different for them, and it keeps me inspired. But also — and almost just as importantly — the platform that I’ve been given to be able to reach out to so many other people that can’t get on the show but still do get inspired by watching, makes me just feel so much more excited about doing it every single season.”

Harper said he knew early on that the show would be much more than a reality competition.

“I remember in season 1 Jillian [Michaels] and I were in the back of a Hummer and we were talking about this show and thinking how long we were going to be doing this,” Harper said. “I told her — I was like -– ‘Jillian, this show is going to be on for a very, very long time,’ because I really do feel like we broke ground doing a show the way that we did it.”

We asked Harper about the evolution of the “diet mentality” that once permeated the early seasons of the show. There was an awful lot of sugar-free gum and diet gelatin offered up to contestants, replaced by a more whole-food focus.

“I’m glad that you noticed that, because it’s been something that I’ve been really working on for a long time now on the show,” Harper said. “When you start eating more whole food, you start eating less processed food, you get to eat more food. And so it’s like you always try to find ways to get people to feel satisfied, to feel satiated with the diet that they’re on.”

Another person who has been with the show since its start has been executive producer and co-creator David Broome, who remembers just how far the show has come.

“When we first went on the air with this show, weight-loss and the subject matter — in many ways — was definitely taboo in prime-time television,” Broome said. “But now I think The Biggest Loser has put health and awareness and a healthy lifestyle and losing weight the right way in the zeitgeist.

“When we first got started, we couldn’t even get a restaurant — a local restaurant in Los Angeles — to allow us to come in and shoot there without covering up the signs, covering up their menus, and having us pay them. And years later we got invited to the White House to be with Michelle Obama and the White House chef. That’s how far the show has come.”

How’s your Biggest Loser trivia? Do you know how many sets of twins have competed on the show? (We’ll give you the answer in our Thursday night recap.) —Gail

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1 Comment
  1. Tywana says:

    I will admit, this is the 1st season where I just haven’t been ducked right in. I tried 2 episodes and removed it from my DVR SeasonPass. I’m not sure of it was the over drastic transformation last season or what but I just couldn’t commit this year for the 1st time. I do hope the show does well and continues to inspire people to gain optimum health!