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"Biggest Loser" controversy

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A day after Rachel Fredrickson won the latest season of The Biggest Loser, after shedding nearly 60 percent of her body weight, attention wasnt focused on her $250,000 win but rather the criticism surrounding her loss.

Experts cautioned that regardless of her current weight, the criticism being levied on social media about her losing too much isnt helpful. A more constructive message is needed, they say, centering on body image and healthy living.

The 5-foot-4, 24-year-old Frederickson dropped from 260 pounds to 105 under the shows rigorous exercise and diet regimen but also time spent on her own before the finale. She was a three-time state champion swimmer at Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota, and said she turned to sweets for solace after a failed romance and gained the weight over several years.

Fredericksons newly thin frame lit up Twitter on Wednesday, with many viewers pointing to the surprised expressions on the faces of trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper during the shows Tuesday night finale. Many tweeted that Fredrickson looked anorexic and unhealthy, while others congratulated her for dropping 155 pounds.

Fredericksons body mass index, a measure of height and weight, is below the normal range, said Jillian Lampert, senior director of the Emily Program, an eating disorder treatment program based in St. Paul, Minn. But she said the criticism directed against Frederickson isnt helpful.

As a society we often criticize people for being at higher weights thats part of why we have the TV show The Biggest Loser and then we feel free to criticize lower weight, Lampert said.

This image released by NBC shows Rachel Frederickson, a contestant on The Biggest Loser. (AP Photo/NBC, Trae Patton)

A more constructive message to send young people would center on well-rounded health and the importance of eating well, moving well and sleeping well, she said.

We certainly see a lot of people who struggle with eating disorders who use the same behaviors on that show to an extreme, she said. That cant be helpful.

Joanne Ikeda, a dietitian and retired faculty member at the University of California at Berkeleys Department of Nutritional Sciences, added that focus needs to be on embracing body-size diversity.

We are just obsessed with body size, women particularly. Theres just tremendous body dissatisfaction, Ikeda said. Im sure even if she was the exact right size, someone wouldnt like the look of her fingers or the length of her hair.

We should be happy we dont all look like Barbie and Ken, she said.

This Feb. 4, 2014 photo released by NBC shows, from left, Rachel Frederickson, David Brown, Bobby Saleem, and host Alison Sweeney on the finale of The Biggest Loser, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/NBC, Trae Patton)

 A listed phone number for Frederickson couldnt be found by The Associated Press late Wednesday. During an appearance on Access Hollywood, Frederickson didnt directly respond to the criticism but said she intends to live a healthy lifestyle going forward.

My journey was about finding that confident girl again. Little by little, challenge by challenge, that athlete came out. And it sparked inside me this feeling that I can do anything I can conceive. And I found that girl, and Im just going to embrace her fully, she said.

In a statement released late Wednesday, NBC said it was committed to helping all of the shows past contestants live healthier lives.

 
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