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Ruben Studdard: 'American Idol' Star Taking On 'The Biggest Loser'

Image: Ruben Studdard: 'American Idol' Star Taking On 'The Biggest Loser'

By Alexandra Ward   |   Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 08:44 AM

Past "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard will become the first celebrity contestant ever to compete on NBC's weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" this fall.

Nicknamed the "Velvet Teddy Bear," Studdard will attempt to slim his waistline as he faces off against other contestants to lose the highest percentage of weight relative to his starting weight.

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Studdard, 34, shot to instant stardom after he edged out Clay Aiken to win the second season of "American Idol" in 2003. He has long struggled with obesity and even tried pairing an intense workout regimen with a strict 1,200-calorie-a-day diet in 2006.

"I was losing weight, but I was exhausted. It was making me sick," Studdard told People magazine back then. "I'm a big man. There was no way to do those workouts on that amount of food, so everything was contradicting itself."

He became a vegetarian that same year and shed 70 of his 455 pounds. Studdard married Surata Zuri McCants in 2008 and remained healthy throughout his marriage, but when the couple divorced in 2012, he put the weight back on.

Now, Studdard says he wants to lose the weight once and for all to prevent any health problems in the future.

"I've never had an issue with my weight," Studdard told People. "[But] my family has a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart-related issues — things I didn't have to deal with yet because I'm young. But I don't want to be worried at 40, and if I don't fix things now, I will be."

Season 15 of "The Biggest Loser" will premiere Oct. 8 on NBC.

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