KEVIN McLernon’s battle with the bulge is being watched by millions of people across the country.
The 38-year-old, who weighed in at 32st 2lb, is the heaviest ever competitor on ITV1 show The Biggest Loser, hosted by Davina McCall.
Viewers saw the first episode last night, featuring Kevin and his niece Amy McLernon, 23, who tipped the scales at 19st when she signed up to the programme.
Property developer Kevin who lives with his partner Joanne in Dovedale Road, Sunderland, said he had tried diets for years but had never kept the weight off.
He said: “I’m 38 and my 40s are just around the corner. I just want to have a normal life.
“I don’t mean ‘two up, two down’, or ‘two-and-a-half kids’. I suppose what I mean is I want a fit and healthy life.
“I want to have an extraordinary life full of adventure and make my partner my wife and while I’m this weight that won’t happen.
“It’s that simple. I don’t want to be dead in my 40s.”
Kevin had previously thought about applying for the show but couldn’t think who would partner him.
He then thought of Amy. He told her he had a big surprise for her – she thought he was going to buy her a house.
Instead he suggested they appear on the programme.
Amy said: “I was a little taken aback when Kevin suggested I go on the show.
“He told me he had something that was a life-changing opportunity – that’s why I thought he had bought me a house.
“But then I began to think it was a good idea and said ‘bring it on’.”
The Biggest Loser follows the progress of 14 overweight contestants as they compete to transform their lives.
They are challenged to undergo dramatic physical change without surgery, relying instead on determination and motivation.
The other six pairings include work colleagues, a father and daughter, a boyfriend and girlfriend, and a mother and daughter.
For eight weeks they live together in a house in Leicestershire where they face intense physical and mental challenges.
Full-time mum Amy, who has a son Christopher, two, and lives with partner Chris, said: “I wanted to come to The Biggest Loser house because I need to lose weight so that I can do more things with my little boy.
“I don’t feel like I have the confidence to do anything active with him at the moment.”
Amy, of South Shields, added: “I don’t want him to miss out because I don’t do these things with him.”
Mum-of-two Karen Layton, 45, from South Tyneside, reached the last three of the competition last year.