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In the reality game show The Biggest Loser, contestants compete for cash prizes based on who can lose the most weight. But how should we define “the most weight,” and is The Biggest Loser scored fairly?

In this lesson, students use percent change to compare absolute and relative weight loss for several contestants and examine historical data to determine which method produces the fairer game.

Students will

  • Calculate weight loss for contestants, both in pounds and as a percent of total weight
  • Compare absolute and relative measures as methods for describing total weight loss
  • Interpret scatterplots to determine relationships between contestants’ weight loss and starting weight

Before you begin

Students should be able to calculate a percent change based on a starting value (in this case, a percent decrease). They will also need to interpret scatterplots in Act Two (an 8th-grade standard), but this lesson could very well serve as an introduction to that topic if students are new to scatterplots.

Note: Approximately 1 in 3 American children are overweight or obese, while many others struggle with eating disorders. Before beginning the lesson, you might remind students that this is a sensitive topic for many people, and that you expect their behavior to demonstrate understanding and empathy.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices