Sunday, August 10, 2008

Biggest Loser Families

Yes, Russia is out to topple the Georgian government, gas prices have fallen for 24 straight days, but I'm going to discuss a TV show.

The premise of the show "Biggest Loser" and its special edition version focusing on an entire family, is to follow a group of overweight individuals as they struggle to lose weight. The individual/family that loses the most weight wins. I don't watch these shows, but when the commercial shows I find myself wondering how much time is in the period where the contestants discover they will be on the show and the beginning of the competition.

Assuming weight loss is a concave function of diet and exercise, a rational strategy for a contestant who wanted to win the competition would be to gain as much weight as possible in that period before the competition starts. The result would be that the true net weight loss of the show would be less than the weight lost in competition. For contestants who may have pursued this strategy and were eliminated early, the net effect may actually be a weight gain.


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