Does the reality TV weight-loss competition "The Biggest Loser" put its contestants at risk for eating disorders? Yes, says season three's Kai Hibbard, who appeared to lose 118 lbs. during over a 12-week period. Hibbard tells CBS News that producers pressured contestants to exercise when injured, ignore nutritionists, and "diet by dehydration" — while misleading the audience by distorting the rate of their weight-loss. Months after the show's finale, Hibbard still exercised 2-5 hours a day, and considered black coffee with Splenda "a meal." Though Hibbard says she's compelled to expose the show's methods, some bloggers question her motives: (Watch Hibbard level her accusations)
Hibbard's disturbing claims make sense: I'm not surprised the show's examples of dramatic weight loss are the result of "eating practically nothing, exercising like a maniac, or both," says Bill at The Shredheads. No doubt the contestants "leave the show messed up. Maybe a little, maybe a lot." Maybe this adverse publicity will spur the show's producers to put more emphasis on therapy to help contestants "transition back to real life...[and] teach them to be normal again."
"Can the Biggest Loser give you an eating disorder?"
Hibbard's full of hot air: Give me a break, says Tanya Wilson at Dietivity. If "The Biggest Loser" were really so dangerous, other contestants would have spoken out by now. Hibbard — who's hawking her own diet pill on her website — is just probably just a "disgruntled contestant" with an axe to grind and 15 minutes of fame to extend.
"The Biggest Loser: Can it really create eating disorders?"
The show is perpetuating its own unhealthy image: This controversy isn't new, says Kate Ward at Entertainment Weekly. Almost every season of "The Biggest Loser" triggers an outcry from "viewers and health professionals alleging the show's lose-weight-fast format is unhealthy for its cast members." And the criticisms are only likely to increase since the show keeps choosing fatter, more health-risk-prone contestants every season. Now that an actual contestant is hurling accusations, viewers may start listening.
"Former 'Biggest Loser' contestant claims the show is 'dangerous,' NBC issues response."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 super-helpful iOS8 tricks you probably don't know about
- Why Japan is turning to high-tech floating islands to solve its energy needs
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
Subscribe to the Week