TV's 'Biggest Loser' Crowned

No fat lady sang when it was over, but "The Biggest Loser" (search) crowned its first-ever weight-loss champion on NBC (search) last night.

He is Ryan Benson (search), 36, of Spokane, Wash., who was declared the winner during a live weigh-in at the conclusion of the reality series' 90-minute season finale.

Benson started the show six months ago weighing 330 pounds. Last night, he weighed 208 pounds, a loss of 122 pounds.

However, the winner was not decided by gross weight loss alone. Instead, the dieters' scores were determined by calculating the percentage of weight they lost and adding that number to another figure representing their percent decrease in body fat.

Benson lost 37 percent of his weight and 18 percent of his body fat, for a winning total of 55.

That score edged out second-place Gary Deckman, 40, of Brooklyn, who lost 71 pounds from a starting weight of 227. He weighed in last night at 156.

And the sole female finalist — Kelly Minner, 28, of Coopersburg, Pa. — weighed in at 163 last night, down 79 pounds from 242.

But the weight-loss stats tell only part of the story of "The Biggest Loser," network TV's first reality series dedicated to fighting America's obesity epidemic.

How weighty was NBC's contribution to the cause? At one point last night, host Caroline Rhea (who's no Twiggy herself) noted that the show's 12 contestants lost more than 750 pounds combined.

Well, they had an incentive — a $250,000 grand prize — which would make most (but not all) of us give up Twinkies and Big Macs for six months.

The question now is: Can the contestants keep the weight off now that the show is over?

Last night, in the hour leading up to the live 30-minute weigh-in, the three finalists were shown at home, where they spent 10 weeks working out and dieting on their own without the help of the personal trainers who instructed and inspired them on the TV show.

The two men seemed to have an easier time sticking to their programs than Minner, who admitted she couldn't stay away from the snack table at a party with family and friends.

There were no snack tables at weigh-in, however — just a TV studio filled with supporters cheering wildly as the dieters took their bows — a big, fat happy ending.

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