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Biggest Loser Controversial Diet Tactics

biggest-loser-logoAnyone who has ever been desperate to lose weight, knows that  extreme diet measures to drop a few pounds is sadly, just as common as scarfing down a quart of Rocky Road ice cream once the goal weight is met.

In a recent article in The New York Times, a very eye-opening and quite controversial light has been shed on the diet practices of a few of the Biggest Loser contestants. And while they don’t involve eating pints of ice cream, they do question the ethical and safety regulatory practices of NBC’s popular weight loss reality series.

From purposefully drinking as little water as possible drop a few pounds to working out in layers of clothing when the cameras were turned off, past Biggest Loser contestants are openly discussing some of the behind-the-scenes diet practices they would do to lose weight before stepping on the scale for their weekly weigh-in’s.

For instance, Kai Hibbard, a contestant from Biggest Loser Season 3, admitted to voluntarily dehydrating herself 24 hours before her weekly weigh-in. And she was not just an outlier. In fact, a few other contestants have admitted to engaging in the same kind of forced dehydration as Hibbard. To add a bit more fuel to the fire, during the current season, Biggest Loser Season 8, two contestants have already been taken to the hospital after suffering health ailments due to their extreme protocols for diet and exercise mixed in with their overweight health status. This combination can result in not just electrolyte imbalance, but also heat exhaustion and in some cases, even death.

The problem is not so much in the show itself but rather what happens when the cameras stop rolling. Biggest Loser trainers, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper scrutinize every step walked and every ounce of chicken breast eaten during the show’s taping hours, but when the cameras stop, the two trainers’ hypervigilant eyes also close to what their teams are doing behind their well-sculpted backs. Michaels was quoted in The New York Times article as saying that what some contestants do to lose weight is the unfortunate “dark side of the show.”

Biggest Loser producers go to extreme lengths to medically screen contestants before and during the show. In addition, a team of medical doctors, health experts and dietiticans supervise the show’s diet and exercise routines. But despite these cautionary steps, some are concerned that a more serious consequence of one of NBC’s most-watched prime-time programs is just waiting in the wings.

“I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack,” said Dr. Charles Burant, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center.

Visit The New York Times article to read the complete story.

November 25th, 2009

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(Page 1 of 1, 4 total comments)


Its sad that people feel they must resort to extreme measures to lose weight. I love the show. Its society that is at fault here. Society tells us that if you are not thin and beautiful you have diminished worth. Look at the statistics of employment discrimination against fat people ,especially women. No wonder feel such pressure to be thin its not just your health at stake its your entire life and ability to provide for you and your familly!!!

posted Jan 27th, 2010 11:00 am

Kyle Dodd

I like that the truth is being brought out - but at the same time, I don't blame the show for the crazy things that contestants will do to win money. Anything can be abused, even a show that is inspiring. Perhaps stricter regulation of the contestants and their dangerous tactics could be introduced. Maybe former contestant Mike could address this issue? Did he witness any really dangerous and unhealthy behavior when he was on the ranch?

posted Nov 29th, 2009 3:16 pm


I'm glad that you guys aren't afraid to tell it like it is, in spite of being so involved with the show. I have to agree some of the things that are done do not seem healthy at all. I don't think it is healthy to lose 16 or 18 or 22 pounds in a single week. I think anything over 7 pounds in a week is harmful to your health, and 7 pounds in a week is only if you're doing 4+ hours of cardio a day. I do love the show TBL for its inspiration to help as many people as possible start losing weight. But the reality is the competition is not healthy, it should never be about % of weight loss, but rather judged by other factors, perhaps solely based upon challenges. Just look at Helen from last year, she practically looked like an anorexic meth addict from how thin she was. Makes me wonder if she was doing the Christian Bale diet from his role as The Machinist. I am looking forward to more shows coming out that are less about numbers on the scale and more about healthy living. Jillian's "Losing It" looks promising. As did DietTribe, which unfortunately I missed. I'm all for a reality weight loss / nutrition / fitness shows, but seriously lets get rid of competing with the scale and focus on healthy competition.

posted Nov 28th, 2009 12:02 am


This is terrible. Hopefully the producers can figure out a way to remove some of these undesirable game play tactics. Its bad for the show and unhealthy for the contestants.

posted Nov 27th, 2009 1:31 pm


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