For this study, authors engaged in 9 semi-structured interviews with romantic partners of contestants who were involved with a weight loss intervention (The Biggest Loser), to gain insight into the phenomenon of weight loss within the context of couple relationships and reality television. Utilizing Basic Qualitative Description influenced by aspects of phenomenology, the authors explored the role of weight loss and the role that the specific intervention utilized, has played within the couple relationship. Building upon previous research (Moore, Cooper, Williams, & Zwierstra, 2017a) authors added the voice of the non-contestant partners to the discussion and explored experiences of weight loss and perceptions regarding the utilization of Marriage and Family Therapists during the weight loss process. The major themes that emerged were (1) Behind the Scenes: The sacrifices we make, (2) After the Show Wraps: Re-entry and the Transition Home, and (3) Perceptions of MFT: Addressing couple relationships. Implications for Marriage and Family Therapists as well as other professionals involved in working with couples during weight loss are discussed as well as future directions in research.


Obesity, Weight loss, Qualitative Description, Marriage and Family Therapy

Author Bio(s)

Darren D. Moore, Ph.D., LMFT, Associate Professor & Site Director, Couple and Family Therapy Program, Alliant International University. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Darren D. Moore, Ph.D., LMFT (Georgia), AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is an Associate Professor and Site Director of the COAMFTE approved Couple and Family Therapy Master’s program at Alliant International University, in San Francisco, California. Dr. Moore’s research focus is obesity and weight loss, within individual, couple, and family relationships, as well as larger systems, with an emphasis on health disparities among men, African American families, and other unique or marginalized populations. Dr. Moore directs an obesity research team, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students, community members, and colleagues at various academic institutions. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: darren.moore@alliant.edu or (612) 296-3758.

Clinton Cooper, MFT, Mercer University School of Medicine. Mr. Clinton E. Cooper, currently a LAMFT in the state of Georgia, has a bachelor’s degree from High Point University's Psychology program and is a graduate of Mercer University's Marriage and Family Therapy program. He has served as a research associate and is a senior member on Dr. Moore's obesity research team, having three published articles thus far with the team. His research interests include: exercise, weight loss, eating disorders, minority populations, motivation from a systemic standpoint, human sexuality, gender identity, elder populations, as well as men and masculinities. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Clinton.E.Cooper@live.mercer.edu

Kai Zwierstra, MSW Student, University of New England. Kai Zwierstra has served as a research associate on Dr. Moore's Obesity Research Team for over a year. She holds one BA in Justice and one in Psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Ms. Zwierstra is currently completing her MSW at the University of New England and works as a body acceptance activist. Ms. Zwierstra speaks around the country at conferences regarding body acceptance, is currently executive producing an off Broadway play inspired by an article she wrote based on her past experience as a weight loss reality TV contestant on "The Biggest Loser," and is negotiating for publication of her fictional novel addressing the subject. Her academic interests are: social justice, intersectionality, research, body acceptance and obesity. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: kaihibbard@gmail.com

Toiya Williams, MFT Student, Mercer University School of Medicine. Toiya D. Williams is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Mercer University. Toiya has served as a research associate on Dr. Moore’s Research Team for over a year. She earned her undergraduate degree at Xavier University of Louisiana. Her research interests include obesity and health, mechanisms used to induce weight loss, social support, community development, resilience characteristics, and the psychological well-being of African American girls and women. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Toiya.Danielle.Williams@live.mercer.edu

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