The reality weight loss TV show “The Biggest Loser” came to Austin Saturday in search of new contestants for its thirteenth season. The casting call drew a good crowd to the Long Center where the try-outs were held. Michael Goana waited in line with hundreds of others.
“Life's a game itself,” he said.
Gaona said he’d been thinking about applying for a spot on the show for three years. The high-drama reality show attracts a large audience that watches overweight people work through some grueling physical exercises. Some health experts believe the show gives viewers unrealistic weight loss goals and is extreme. Gaona said he’s willing to go through the national spotlight in order to lose weight.
“For years of not caring, this is the result of it and hey, if I can win some money out of losing weight, why not? So, let's go for it,” Gaona said.
In February, a report released by the Texas Comptroller's Office showed that the state could lose $30 billion a year by 2030 if obesity rates and health care costs continue to grow as projected. Two-thirds of adult Texans are either overweight or obese.
The rising cost of treating obesity-related diseases and an aging population with higher rates of obesity also have increased the Comptroller’s estimate of obesity costs to Texas businesses. Our updated estimates put obesity-related costs for Texas businesses at $9.5 billion in 2009.
Left unchecked, obesity could cost employers $32.5 billion annually by 2030. These costs consume a growing share of economic output that could otherwise support more productive activities. Obesity-related costs also contribute to rising health care and insurance costs that have forced some Texas employers to reduce insurance coverage.
Reality shows usually hunt for the perfect cast of interesting characters with conflicting personalities or personal challenges. Austinite Gwen Newsome, who is blind, stood in line for her chance. Newsome said as long as there is a trainer or someone to give her direction, she could compete fine and motivate her to trim down.
“I’ve tried it on my own,” Newsome said. “But maybe if I could do it with other people, the right people helping me out, I’ll be able to lose weight. ”
While eager Austinites auditioned for a spot on “The Biggest Loser,” on the other side of town, former “Biggest Loser” contestant, Cherita Andrews, spoke at a health fair in East Austin. Andrews was eliminated on the first day of the Season 9 show . Free blood pressure and sugar readings were offered as well as healthy cooking classes.
"The Biggest Loser" travels to Dallas for an August 20th casting call.
Hannah Jones contributed reporting to this story.