The only reason they withold family interraction is for the integrity of the show. They don't want spoilers to be leaked. It's why on Survivor after the first season they decided to do the winner live so that way no one knew who the winner was before the show aired.
Still I agree that it shouldn't be held over their heads like a "reward". I believe they should get weekly call allowances to family. Even prisoners get phone calls!
As for the weight loss, it is possible and I believe they do it in a fairly "healthy" manner. Right foods and exercise. What they don't tell you is the diet menu. Those first couple of weeks when they lose the most is because they went through a detox stage so the body loses the most at that point. Imagine cutting all candy, sugar, pop, non-essential carbs, and junk food out. It really does jump start a body into weight loss mode. I started my diet last Monday and am already down 12lbs, simply by cutting those things out. Plus doing a low carb induction phase diet. It works well.
Stephanie - Start Date 3/10/08 SW-290/CW-269/MGW-260/GW-190