Biggest Loser contestants are coming forward to tell their stories about being on the show, and for the most part, they’re very unflattering.
Stories of drug abuse and lying about calorie intake are just two of the claims former contestants are making against the show, with one woman saying she was encouraged to vomit if it helped her at the weigh-in. According to Joelle Gwynn — who was on the show in 2008 — her trainer’s assistant brought her pills that contained ephedra, a banned substance, and said they would help in her weight loss journey.
“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,” Gwynn told the New York Post.
Dr. Rob Huizenga, the on-set medical specialist for contestants, responded to the claims with a vehement denial, saying The Biggest Loser would never encourage drug abuse.
“Nothing could be further from the truth. Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs. Urine drug screens and the evaluation of serial weights are repeatedly used to flush out possible illicit use,” Huizenga wrote.
It’s not the first time a contestant has come back with horror stories about their treatment during the competition; Kai Hibbard revealed last year that she was fat-shamed during her time on the show and that her family staged an “intervention” to get her back to a healthy place before the season finale after she pushed herself too hard to hit a certain number on the scale.
“The whole f**ing show is a fat-shaming disaster that I’m embarrassed to have participated in. You’re brainwashed to believe that you’re super lucky to be there… This doctor associated with the show called me, and I told him what happened. He said, ‘Thank goodness. The people that make this show do not care about your health. They care about profit and entertainment. Take care of yourself,’ ” Hibbard told People.
While many contestants say they only had a positive experience on The Biggest Loser, several people have come forward after gaining back all the weight that was lost, saying the competition is not conducive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Then there’s the story of Rachel Frederickson, who lost what some said was too much weight during Season 15. The former athlete showed up at the finale weighing in at just 105 pounds, shocking viewers with her tiny frame and prompting rumors about anorexia. Two months later, Rachel spoke to Us Weekly and said that after she got home, she gained back about 20 pounds and felt that was just right.
“We have monthly calls with the other contestants and the show psychologist. And our nutritionist is available 24/7. I’ll call her from the farmers’ market and say, ‘What is this? How would I cook it?’ ” Frederickson told the magazine.
Last year, when Hibbard came forward about her time on The Biggest Loser, the show’s co-creator fired back to defend the competition, saying he could not sit back and listen to another attack.
“It’s been hard to sit back and listen to an attack and not come out and call afoul, but I have done that for many years. I’ve held back for many years on this because I didn’t want to give it any credence or credibility. But I think at this point we just feel like there needs to be a balance with this story,” said co-creator and executive producer Dave Broome.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Stringer for Getty Images]