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Jillian Michaels returns to 'Biggest Loser' to tackle teen obesity

September 04, 2012|By Rene Lynch

Jillian Michaels is returning to "The Biggest Loser" -- again -- as the show revamps its format to focus on what is certain to be a sensitive topic: childhood obesity.

Michaels made the announcement on NBC's "Today" show, telling Al Roker that she couldn't miss an opportunity to tackle such a touchy topic, one that Michaels dealt with herself as an overweight child. 

"The show has chosen to take on something very controversial. They are going to go after childhood obesity," Michaels said. "It’s something that I’m really passionate about, and I want to be involved with."

For the first time ever the NBC weight-loss reality show will feature teenagers between the age of 13 and 17 in addition to adult contestants, according to a statement released by the network.

Now, weight loss is hard enough for mature adults. But kids? Kids who have to go to school each day and potentially face ridicule from classmates?

"It’s obviously something that needs to be handled with kid gloves, but it’s something that needs to be handled," Michaels said. Several steps are being taken to safeguard the children, according to Michaels and NBC. For example: They will not be subjected to public weigh ins on a scale, or elimination, and they will not be sequestered at the ranch.

“It’s about getting them healthy," Michaels said. She said the show will be working with a variety of experts, including pediatricians, to determine the "delicate and appropriate ways" to address obesity among teens. "We’re very cognizant of how touchy it is, how controversial it is."

Michaels, who struggled to shed weight as a youngster herself, said she feels the poignancy of the issue of childhood obesity even more now that she is a mother of two: She was in the midst of adopting a young girl from Haiti when she learned that her partner, Heidi Rhoades, was pregnant with a boy.

She advises parents of overweight kids to model positive behavior beginning with getting more active with their children. The new season, which will mark Michaels' third tour of duty with the weight-loss show, begins in January. An exact date will be announced later.

Among those thrilled that Michaels is back? Bob Harper. He tweeted: "Are you as excited as I am that @JillianMichaels is coming back to #BiggestLoser!??!?!?"

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