Who should win extreme weight loss competitions? In the TV game show The Biggest Loser, contestants compete to lose the greatest percent of body weight. While some praised the show as a helpful source of inspiration, others criticized it as an unrealistic and unhealthy example of how to lose weight.

In this lesson, students use linear functions and lines-of-best-fit to predict results from Season 8 of The Biggest Loser and discuss whether such examples of extreme weight loss are realistic and sustainable.

Students will

  • Create and interpret scatterplots
  • Estimate a line of best fit and use it to make predictions
  • Appreciate how the precision of a line-of-best fit changes as more data is added

Before you begin

Please consider strategies you might use to create a welcoming environment for students, both those who struggle with their weight and those who don’t. One strategy we find helpful is to think about – and to describe – obesity as describing a body rather than a person; “fat” as something a body carries rather than something a person is. Still, if you think that no matter how conscientious you are, there will be students who make fun of others, it might be best to skip this lesson until you’re confident students will handle it maturely.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices