When it comes to keeping a show relevant, NBC has all its ducks in a row with season fourteen of "The Biggest Loser."
Weight loss competish show from Shine America, which premieres tonight at 9 p.m., arrives less than one week into the new year, when diet and fitness resolutions are fresh on the minds of TV auds. And, per usual, the health spectrum in the consumer industry remains a powerhouse money-maker, with a new miracle diet book published practically every week and fitness crazes popping up in every major metropolitan city.
So, while timing plays to "Biggest Loser's" favor along with consumer interest, the real relevance of season fourteen lies in a format change that focuses on childhood obesity, a topic spearheaded most notably by Michelle Obama, who launched health campaign "Let's Move" last year. This "Biggest Loser" spotlight on childhood obesity is critical, as one third of Americans age 2-19 are overweight.
For the first time in the show's run, "Biggest Loser" will integrate tykes. Two kids and one teen — Lindsay, Biingo and Sunny — will join the adults at the ranch, though they will not live there nor will they partake in weigh-ins. Instead, they will be encouraged to lead a healthier lifestyle and take fitness tests to gauge their progress.
The return of uber-coach Jillian Michaels for season fourteen, then, is especially timely since Michaels herself battled obesity when she was young.
"I was about 50 pounds overweight at my heaviest," Michaels told journos at "Biggest Loser's" TCA panel. She got in shape when her mother introduced her to martial arts. "[Being overweight], it was soul-crushing. It is soul-crushing for any kid…It takes all the innocence and joy out of being a child."
Fellow trainer Bob Harper dubbed the kids of this season "the heroes of our show."
"You won't see them compete to be in the house," Harper explained. "It's about uplifting them and getting the parents involved. We really do believe it starts at home, and what better show than 'The Biggest Loser' to bring this topic into homes every week?"
Show's theme for its fourteenth cycle, beyond childhood obesity, is "Challenge America," which has led to the launch of Biggestloser.com where TV auds can partake in health challenges each week.
Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, "Biggest Loser's" Child Obesity Expert/Pediatrician, is confident in the show's focus this year: "We're not going to sit back silently as our children literally eat themselves to death."
Check out a teaser of season fourteen of "The Biggest Loser" here: