Former "Biggest Loser" Contestants Share Drastic Weight Loss Plan
Earlier this month, a New York Times study followed the weight loss of ten contestants of "The Biggest Loser" five years after the show to discover almost everyone in the study gained weight and damaged their metabolism in the process. Today, former "Biggest Loser" contestants reveal to the New York Post just how severe the weight-loss process was off-camera.
Former contestants claim they were given Adderall and pills with an ephedra extract to help them lose weight. When one contestant complained about side effects (Ephedra was banned by the FDA in 2004), the show's official doctor Rob Huizenga allegedly continued to push the pills onto contenstants:
"People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight," said Joelle Gwynn, who participated in the Couples edition of "The Biggest Loser" in 2008.
Bob Harper, former trainer and current host of "The Biggest Loser" was also called out for questionable weight-loss tactics. According to Gwynn, Harper allegedly asked her off-camera to lie about her weight loss and caloric intake in her daily log. Harper also turned a blind eye to contestants who lost extra weight by exercise binging, bulimia, and using various diuretics before weigh-ins. “ I vomited every single day. Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’ " said Season Two contestant Suzanne Mendonca, who also claimed show producers asked her to gain an extra 40 pounds because they felt she wasn't big enough.
Some contestants faced both physical and psychological ramifications from participating on "The Biggest Loser." Contestants are separated from their families while filming "The Biggest Loser," then watch their careers and marriages dissolve when they return home after the show. Weight maintenance proved almost deadly to one contestant: To prepare for the Season 2 finale, San Francisco Police Officer Mark Yesitis lost 17 pounds of water weight, then had his gall bladder removed due to complications. Still, Yesitis did whatever it took to keep his weight down:
“The day after my surgery, I ran five miles,” he says. “My doctor was very angry. But that’s how brainwashed I was.”
After a ratings slump this year, it's unknown whether “The Biggest Loser” will return for Season 18 on NBC. However, the show's producers gave the Post a statement regarding the former contenstants' complaints:
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount. We prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety.”
Huizenga denied the claim in an e-mail to the Post, but Harper had no comment.