Over the weekend, a New York Post report surfaced in which a former “Biggest Loser” contestant claimed she was forced to use weight-loss drugs in order to shed pounds on the NBC reality show.
The producers of the show, however, have denied any such activity in a statement on Monday (May 23).
“The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount,” reads the statement from “The Biggest Loser” producers. “Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight loss drugs. 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.”
The Post report, which followed the release of a six-year study that found that most former contestants gain a significant amount of weight back after leaving the show, quotes former contestant Joelle Gwynn, who made explosive claims about the show and trainer Bob Harper in particular.
“Bob Harper was my trainer,” she says in the report. “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?'”
Gwynn went on to say that she felt “jittery and hyper.” “I went and told the sports medicine guy,” she continues. “The next day, Dr. H [the show’s resident doctor, Dr. Rob Huizenga] 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,” Gwynn says. “I feel like we got raped, too”
Suzanne Mendonca, a contestant in Season 2, also said in the report that contestants would go to extremes to lose weight. She said they would utilize “amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom,” and claimed that Harper in particular told people to vomit to lose weight. “I vomited every single day,” she says.
Huizenga also denied these claims, telling the Post that contestants “rarely” get to the point of dizziness. “Furthermore, I educate contestants that proper caloric intake is essential to fat loss both over the short and long term,” he adds.
Several former “Biggest Loser” contestants also jumped to defend the show. Vencent Van-Zant Hickerson of Season 12 posted on his Facebook page that “Biggest Loser” never asked him to use any drugs.
Olivia Ward from Season 11, Bill Germanakos from Season 4 and Jacky Cunningham Kmet from the most recent, Season 17, also took to social media to defend “Biggest Loser.”