Ruben Studdard was the big winner on season two of American Idol in 2003, but he's hoping now to be the big loser — or, rather, The Biggest Loser. The 35-year-old singer is set to compete on season 15 of NBC's weight-loss show The Biggest Loser, the network confirms to Us Weekly.
Studdard, nicknamed the "Velvet Teddy Bear," has battled weight ups and downs for years. In 2006, he took part in a healthy eating program at Duke University in North Carolina, which eventually led him to adopt vegetarianism. That change — combined with regular exercise — resulted in a weight loss of around 70 pounds.
"On both sides of my family, I have a history of diabetes and high blood pressure and things of that nature," a slimmer Studdard said on the TODAY show in October 2006. "I just wanted to basically combat those issues at an early age. They've never been an issue for me, but I wanted to do it while I was still young and felt like working out and looking great."
Studdard maintained his fitter physique for a while, but in an interview with talk show host Wendy Williams in March 2012, he admitted that he had put most of the weight back on after his 2011 divorce from wife Surata Zuri McCants, in part due to "stress-eating." He noted, however, that he wanted to try again to get — and stay — healthy.
"I never want to try to be a spokesperson for health and wellness because I most definitely am not the most in shape person in the world," he told the Huffington Post last year. "But I do know that it's important that we all have our regular checkups with our doctors and try to have some type of physical activity so that we can have a decent level of health, so that we can ward off a lot of the things that happen — especially in the African-American community."
"It took me to be in my thirties for it to become somewhat of a mission for me, because I grew up in the South," the Alabama-raised star continued. "So we used to eat everything. And still to this day I have a problem with sweets, which is something that I hope I can get control over in the near future. But everyone has different obstacles that they have to conquer and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to conquer mine."
Studdard will get the chance to do just that when he becomes the first-ever celebrity contestant on The Biggest Loser this fall. Season 15 of the NBC reality series premieres Tuesday, Oct. 8.
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