“It is the worst thing to happen to sensible weight loss, ever.”
Not exactly what NBC wants to hear being said about The Biggest Loser by renowned obesity doctor Yoni Freedhoof. This comes less than a month after an extensive study in The Washington Post revealed how contestants on the show are medically and scientifically unable to keep the weight off after they leave the show. The reality program’s aggressive methods are now causing past participants to pose new allegations against the show’s behind the scenes processes and spoiler alert: they aren’t remotely good. The accusations against the show’s trainers and doctors range from forcing the contestants to take drugs that have been banned by the FDA to telling them their daily calorie intake should actually be half as much as the show said they should be eating on air.
One contestant who lived through Hurricane Katrina (and has regained all of the weight she lost on the show) says “It’s my biggest nightmare…and it’s with me to this day.” Let that sink in for a moment – somebody who survived one of our country’s largest natural disasters in the last century still calls being on a reality show her biggest nightmare. That is how awful and degrading the show’s weight loss practices seem to be. Viewers of the show can already attest to how grueling the workouts can be and how strict the meal plans are for each person, but these new details make what you see on screen look like a day at the beach.
According to contestant Joelle Gwynn’s comments to The New York Post,
“Bob Harper was my trainer….he goes away and his assistant comes in. He’s got this brown paper bag that’s bundled up. He says, ‘Take this drug, it’ll really help you.’ It was yellow and black. I was like, ‘What the f- -k is this?’ ”
“I felt jittery and hyper…I went and told the sports medicine guy. The next day, Dr. H gave us some lame explanation of why they got added to our regimen and that it was up to us to take them . . . People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight. I feel like we got raped, too.”
Putting aside Gwynn’s comparison of being forced to take possibly unsafe diet pills to Bill Cosby’s drugging of women – let’s not say anything is like rape unless it is actually rape – these details are straight up horrifying. A source close to the production confirmed to the Post that the pills people were receiving contained Ephedra, which has been banned by the FDA for more than a decade at this point.
Contestants go on to blame the show for marital strife, job losses, intense depression, and more health issues after appearing on the show than they had ever experienced before. More than one person says that the show told them to gain dozens of pounds of weight before they could appear on the show since they were not fat enough to get cast. One participant even says she spent thousands of dollars in medical bills and is now in debt due to the emotional toll the show caused. If only one of these things were true it would be appalling, but the possibility that all of them occurred is not okay.
Most of the accusations center around trainer Bob Harper and show doctor Rob Huizinga, both of which are completely denying any and all of these goings on. Harper says: