Alarming statistics recently revealed that half of West Australians aged between 18 and 24 are overweight.
So it is perhaps timely the new season of reality weight loss program The Biggest Loser is tagged The Next Generation and is aimed at breaking the obesity cycle plaguing many Australian families.
Trainer Shannan Ponton said the challenge this year was not so much weight loss but addressing the issues that have contributed to weight gain among the teams, comprising an overweight parent and their son or daughter.
"As a trainer, for me, we have done the most amazing things with weight loss. We have knocked 52 per cent of body weight off people in eight to 12 weeks," he said in Sydney. "All of that has been done. It is not about that this year.
"This year it is about a morbidly obese parent and a morbidly obese child. There's resentment and blame from the child, and from the parent, disappointment and regret.
"With both of them there's a massive grey area, a no-go zone, where the parent says 'You have to do something about your weight', and the child says 'Shut up you hypocrite', and the parent says 'You're bloody right'."
Ponton, who has trained four winners, said this year's contestants were genuinely likable. Whipping out his phone to show me a photo of his eight-month-old son, Max, the proud dad ponders whether his affection for the parent-child teams stems from becoming a father.
"I don't know whether it is that I am a new father or the dynamics, but this year so many times the contestants' stories have hit me in the heart, particulary the father and son couple," he said of Green Team, Gerald and Todd Nester from Bendigo. "I feel now I have a real understanding. I hold this little boy in my hand, he's eight months old, and you don't fast- forward 15 years and think he is going to be 124kg of misery.
"He has his whole life ahead of him, and all I want to do is protect him and keep him healthy and fit.
"In a weird sort of way I have found myself trying to learn from these contestants, what not to do, so I can learn where they have gone wrong."
Among those competing this year in the series hosted by Haley Lewis are WA mother and son Mandy and Brett Martin, of Baldivis.
At 187kg, 24-year-old Brett is the heaviest contestant among the seven teams that start their journey by taking a bus to a Sydney sport centre where they make a public promise in front of 3000 people to change their lives.
"I definitely couldn't do it without my mum. The entire process is brutal, both physically and emotionally," said Brett, who has tried many diet and shake programs to lose weight.
"It's incredibly tough. Having extra support here rather than having to wait for a phone call is priceless."
Mandy, 53, said when Brett asked if she would go on the show, she looked at him and said "Do you think I'm fat?"
"I knew I had a weight problem. I got to the stage where I didn't think I was ever going to win the battle with my weight," she said.
Ponton said a frustrated Brett shaped up to him during a challenge, the first contestant to do so in his seven seasons on the show.
"He still played basketball, so in his mind coming in to the house he was still somewhat of an athlete and a peg above everyone else," Ponton said.
"Unfortunately that wasn't the case. He was so much more far gone than he believed.
"In the first session he stormed out three times. I was lucky to get him back in.
"There was a very critical moment there where he broke. It was the first time in seven years I had a six foot four (193cm), 187kg contestant shape up to me.
"All I was doing was walking with my hand on his back saying 'Keep going', and it was something so simple, but all that anger, pain and stigma that was attached to being overweight came to a head."
Unlike fellow trainers The Commando (Steve Willis) and Michelle Bridges, Ponton is "a realist" who allows contestants diet soft drink and diet ice-cream.
"The other guys don't like diet soft drink, while I'm a big fan of it," he said. "If you're going to have a soft drink, have a diet soft drink for goodness sake, stay off the hard stuff. If that is what makes you happy it is really doing no damage to your calories.
"My guys are allowed to have treats once a week; diet low-fat ice-cream with diet low-fat topping - the total calories is less than an apple. As a treat and as a reward, that for me is a fantastic tool to give them longevity in their diets once they get out of the house."
Sue Yeap visited Sydney as a guest of Network Ten.The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation starts Sunday at 6:45pm on Ten.
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