The Biggest Loser may be a hit show boasting some great success stories, but former contestant Kai Hibbard says there is a dark side to the NBC show.
During her 2006 stint on the weight loss competition, Hibbard lost 121 pounds. Awesome as that is, she is now taking the show to task for its tactics.
In an interview with the New York Post on Sunday, Kai says the results are achieved via methods both emotionally abusive and physically dangerous.
Calling the show a "fat-shaming disaster," Hibbard said the only reason she didn't walk off the set was she was brainwashed to feel "so lucky to be there."
Contestants were sent evil texts, she says, informing them of their imminent deaths and told to go pick out the "fat-person" coffins to bury their bodies in.
“They would say things to contestants like, 'You’re going die before your children grow up,'" or the common "'You’re going to die, just like your mother.'"
She claimed that The Biggest Loser guests are "imprisoned" in hotel rooms, and later on the ranch, unable to talk to friends or family during competition.
"I know that one of the contestants' children became very ill and was in the ICU," she says. "He was allowed to talk to his family, but he didn't want to leave."
Had he done so, "the show would have been done with him."
At the ranch, contestants are thrown into a 5-6 hour-a-day workout regimen, during which "My feet were bleeding through my shoes for the first three weeks."
And according to Hibbard, trainers took on the role of bullies, seemingly enjoying it when the contestants began to collapse, mentally and physically.
“They’d get a sick pleasure out of it. They’d say, ‘It’s because you’re fat. Look at all the fat you have on you.’ And that was our fault, so this was our punishment.”
What you see when you watch The Biggest Loser online is not the whole story, she goes on, and Hibbard says her own health was severely compromised.
“My hair was falling out,” she said. “My period stopped. I was only sleeping three hours a night. My thyroid, which I never had problems with, is now crap."
The show came under scrutiny last year after the shocking weight loss transformation of Rachel Frederickson, and the means by which she got there.
Even trainer Jillian Michaels was shocked and cut ties with the hit competition shortly thereafter, but NBC insisted their contestants are always safe.
"The consistent Biggest Loser health transformations of over 300 contestants through 16 seasons of the program speak for themselves,” they said.
“Our contestants are closely monitored and medically supervised."
Do you agree? Does the end justify the means in this case? Or does the show take things much too far with its grueling mental and physical practices?