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Weight loss TV show draws obese viewers

entertainment Updated: Jun 08, 2007 12:18 IST
Tony Tharakan
Tony Tharakan
Reuters
Highlight Story

An Indian version of the weight loss reality TV show "Biggest Loser" is attracting a large following in a country increasingly grappling with obesity.

Biggest Loser Jeetega
features 16 obese contestants closeted in a house near Mumbai for nearly four months with only trainers and fitness equipment for company.

Their goal: to lose as much weight as possible.

Producers say the thrice weekly show, which has attracted more than 15 million viewers over the last two weeks, strikes a chord with many Indians who themselves are battling the bulge.

Obesity, usually seen as a quintessentially Western phenomenon, is fast becoming a major health problem in rapidly developing countries like India and fellow Asian giant China, where fatter wallets are changing lifestyles.

"I find the show motivating," said 29-year-old teacher Shibi Mathew, who is trying to shed some of her 80 kgs after her recent pregnancy.

"I am sure working together under the supervision of trainers, the contestants will lose weight but I am not convinced whether they will keep up the routine once the show is over."

Producers say getting obese volunteers to participate in the show, launched last month, was not difficult.

"Convincing them was the easiest thing," said Kalyan Sundaram, Programming Head of Sahara One Television. "In India, people are now conscious of what they wear, how they look, what they weigh."

Contestants include television actors, bank managers and even a doctor. One contestant, a businessman, started off the show tipping the scales at almost 200 kg. As in the American version, one contestant is voted out by the team each week based on that person's commitment and ability to lose weight.

The eventual winner is the one who loses the most weight -- earning 100,000 rupees for every kg lost.

Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty, a known fitness freak, is hosting the show and took almost a year off from his film career to focus on it.

"Fitness has always been an obsession with me and this was an opportunity to do something about it at the national level," Shetty told Reuters.

"It has been an awesome experience just motivating these 16 people. The first week I was motivating them and now they are motivating me to do better."

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