Biggest Loser Finale: Patrick House Wins, but Can He Keep Weight Off? (PICTURES)

Patrick House, Biggest Loser, 4x3
Patrick House, Biggest Loser, 4x3
Patrick House as he claimed victory on "The Biggest Loser." (NBC)

(CBS) Patrick House became a big winner on Tuesday, when the formerly obese, out-of-work salesman claimed victory - and $250,000 in prize money - on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" TV show.

PICTURES: Biggest Loser Finale: Patrick House Wins

house, who was packing 400 pounds on his 6'2" frame when the hit show's 2010 season began six months ago, lost a total of 181 pounds, or 45 percent of his body weight. When the big digital scale displayed his winning weight-loss tally, the 28-year-old father of two from Mississippi gave a huge grin, pumped his fists overhead, and burst into tears.

Then came the confetti.

Winning the contest "means everything to me," House said moments before the final weigh-in. "Not only the title and the notoriety that goes with it but the ability to pick my family back up and get our two feet back on the ground, to start over, and pay off the family members who have loaned me money."

Saying that 2010 had been a "tough year," he added, "Winning this for me gets me back, just, freedom."

"I'm so proud of Patrick," said House's wife, Bradley, People magazine reported. "I used to tell him all the time how handsome he was. He's always been this good-looking to me. It's just now that everybody else can tell it."

One of the show's fitness trainers, Bob Harper, said he had pegged Brown as the winner form the moment he arrived at the ranch, the Los Angeles Times reported. "He needed the money, bad," Harper said. "I knew he was going to win, I knew it, knew it, knew it."

Before joining the show, House was grappling with a series of health issues. He had high cholesterol and high blood pressure and was suffering from sleep apnea, the New York Daily News reported.

Weight loss can help each of those problems. But can House keep the pounds off?

"It's very difficult to keep weight off for years," Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight control program at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center, tells CBS News. Regular exercise is often the key ingredient in maintaining weight-loss, he says.

And, says Aronne, overweight people should know that it doesn't take such dramatic weight loss to see big improvements in health. "If you lose 7 percent of your body weight, your risk of developing diabetes falls by 60 percent," he says.

That sounds like good news for House, who reportedly was pre-diabetic before his big weight loss.

For now, House is taking the family on a celebratory Caribbean vacation. What will he do when he returns? According to the Times, he starts a new gig:

Running a weight-loss academy.