Are the 'Biggest Losers' ruining their health?
One contestant's claim that "The Biggest Loser" gave her an eating disorder has bloggers asking whether the reality show's emphasis on dramatic weight loss could be more dangerous than obesity itself
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."