Most people, no matter who they are, face a somewhat uphill battle when it comes to losing weight, especially a lot of weight. It requires tweaking, changing, or sometimes completely overhauling diet and physical lifestyle, and sometimes it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel as pounds disappear only to reappear weeks later. It especially doesn’t help when you can turn on the TV and watch people who weigh over 300 pounds cut the fat away in a handful of episodes.
As it turns out, maybe the old diet-and-exercise method wasn’t so easy for The Biggest Loser contestants either.
The longtime NBC hit is under investigation today by the Los Angeles Police Department after claims that the show forced its competitors to use weight-loss drugs, Variety reports. The inquiry was launched after former contestants of the show brought it to the mainstream last week through an interview with the New York Post.
The Sheriff’s department made it clear that while their search is not an “official investigation” but instead an “inquiry” into The Biggest Loser following the former contestant’s claims, potential conclusions could result in a larger examination. The allegations in question, too, were fairly incriminating, though both the show’s spokesperson and show trainer Bob Harper have vehemently denied the accusations.
One contestant in particular, Joelle Gwynn, describes her experience in the Post with Harper’s assistant. According to Gwynn, the assistant offered her a little yellow pill to “help” her with her weight-loss challenge, a pill that caused her to throw up with every dose.
Another contestant, Lezlye Donahue, compared taking the weight-loss drugs to her time through Hurricane Katrina, only worse.
The Post likened the apparent forced drug usage–which, of course, would not continue after the Biggest Loser ended–to the almost across-the-board gain that competitors experience when the show ends. Of course, not having Jillian Michaels screaming in one’s ear could also contribute to weight gain after the show, but most of all, argue Gwynn, Donahue, and season two contestant Suzanne Mondonca (who details people passing out in the show doctor’s office by the end of the challenge) equate the fact that they lost weight at all to the pills–and a few other, less-than-innocent factors.
According to Gwynn, contestants would consistently lie about how many calories they were consuming a day, on the urging of their trainer and trainer’s assistants. Mondonca added that on top of the little yellow pills, people downed amphetamines, water pills, and diuretics, and what they did not swallow, they threw back up.
Reportedly, Harper would respond, “Good. You’ll lose more calories.”
The Biggest Loser released a statement regarding the Sheriff’s inquiry.
“We believe these allegations are without merit and false. The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount. 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,” said the producers of the show.
They continued, “The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount.”
Other contestants have come out and claimed that they were never offered pills by anyone on the show, but regardless, what the Sheriff’s department finds on the series may directly affect the show’s continuation–and, of course, that would be very bad news for NBC, who, past the Olympics, will be fighting to overtake CBS in the overall ratings.