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."