Earlier this month, a report from the National Institutes of Health claimed that the majority of contestant from NBC’s the Biggest Loser had in fact gained back all of the weight they had shed while competing on the reality show. Contestants' metabolisms “slowed radically” once they returned to normal life, and, in some instances, they became even heavier than when they first appeared on the program.
Now, according to a report from the New York Post on Sunday, contestants are accusing the Biggest Loser of encouraging participants to take illicit weight loss drugs, purge after meals, and lie about the progress they were making.
“People were passing out in Dr. H’s office at the finale weigh-in,” Suzanne Mendonca, a contestant on season two of the show, told the Post. She’s referencing the show’s resident doctor, Rob Huizenga, who is also accused in the article of subjecting contests to “questionable” medical exams. “On my season, five people had to be rushed to the hospital. He knew exactly what we were doing and never tried to stop it.”
Anonymous sources told the Post that Bob Harper, the trainer on the show, gave contestants Adderall, as well as pills containing ephedra extract. One cast member, Lezlye Donahue, told the paper that the Biggest Loser had become her “biggest nightmare.” Mendonca also claimed that she regularly took amphetamines and was encouraged to throw up daily.
“I vomited every single day,” she said. “Bob Harper tells people to throw up: ‘Good,’ he says. ‘You’ll lose more calories.’”
Still, Huizenga vehemently denied the allegations in a statement to the Post.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement read. “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.”
NBC would not comment directly on the accusations, but issued a statement echoing Huizenga’s defense.
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount,” the network's statement read. “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.”
Still, the allegations are serious. Contestants saying the trauma endured during the show has been severe and long-lasting.
“People chastise Bill Cosby for allegedly offering meds to women, but it’s acceptable to do to fat people to make them lose weight,” Joelle Gwynn, a contestant on the show in 2008, told the Post. “I feel like we got raped, too.”
[via New York Post]