About twice a year, we tune into the latest season of The Biggest Loser and watch in admiration and awe as a dozen or so contestants quickly shed pound after pound from their bodies, until they’re left looking like healthy, happy individuals. But, if former contestant Kai Hibbard is to be believed, oftentimes Biggest Loser graduates are anything but.
The season 3 contestant — who lost 118 pounds on the show — appeared on CBS’ The Early Show this morning to discuss her claim that the NBC show is hurting its contestants, and promoting an unhealthy body image. (See the video embedded after the jump.) Beginning her interview by voicing appreciation for being part of something that has inspired people to lose weight, Hibbard went on to accuse Biggest Loser of supporting a “myth that’s dangerous,” and claims the show stretches the truth when it comes to its shooting schedule: “I have people that come up to me and talk to me and ask me why they can’t lose 12 pounds in a week when I did. It didn’t happen. It’s TV…a week is not a week in TV.” (Hibbard also discussed dehydration, which is used to affect the outcome on the scales, something Biggest Loser fans are already fairly knowledgeable about.)
The former contestant also went on to explain how Biggest Loser affected her own health: Hibbard says she suffered from an eating disorder after shooting wrapped, which only ended after her husband and friends staged an intervention when they saw her substitute coffee for meals, and began to notice her hair falling out. “I left with a very poor mental body image,” she said on the Early Show. “I found myself loathing what I looked like the more weight that I dropped because of the pressure on me.” What’s more, Hibbard claims at least six former contestants from seasons after hers have approached her to complain about their own unhealthy experiences.
When asked to comment, NBC issued the following statement to EW: “Contestants on The Biggest Loser are closely monitored and medically supervised. The consistent health transformations of over 200 contestants through nine seasons of the program speak for themselves.” Of course, Biggest Loser is not new to controversy — nearly every season, the show comes under fire from viewers and health professionals alleging the show’s lose-weight-fast format is unhealthy for its cast members, especially since the show seems intent on adding bigger and bigger cast members with each new season. (Just see the latest Biggest Loser winner, Mike Ventrella, the heaviest contestant to ever enter the ranch.) But now that a former contestant is alleging the show is dangerous, is it easier to believe?