“The whole f- -king show,” she says today, “is a fat-shaming disaster that I’m embarrassed to have participated in.” Since its premiere in 2004, “The Biggest Loser” — which pits obese contestants against one another in a race to lose the most weight — has been one of the most popular reality shows of all time. The show rakes in about 0 million annually in ad sales, with ancillary products such as cookbooks, DVDs, protein powder, clothing, video games and branded weight-loss camps bringing in tens of millions of dollars more per year.
In a country where two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese, “The Biggest Loser” has multifaceted appeal: It’s aspirational and grotesque, punitive and redemptive — skinny or fat, it’s got something for you.
On her first day, she was put through this regimen: At one point, she collapsed. “I couldn’t take any more.” Her trainer yelled, “Get up! ’ ” The trainers, she says, took satisfaction in bringing their charges to physical and mental collapse. “They would say things to contestants like, ‘You’re going die before your children grow up.’ ‘You’re going to die, just like your mother.’ ‘We’ve picked out your fat-person coffin’ — that was in a text message.
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In 2009, two contestants were hospitalized — one via airlift.
And 2014’s Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson, became the first winner to generate concern that she had lost too much weight, dropping 155 pounds in months.
She appeared on the cover of People with the headline “Too Thin, Too Fast?
” Frederickson (5 feet 4, 105 pounds) admitted to working out four times a day, and within one month of the finale had gained back 20 pounds. The joints of someone who has never exercised absorbing the force of 300 pounds of jumping or bouncing?
I’m surprised that no one’s really been injured on the show.” In fact, contestants have been seriously injured, but it’s not often shown.
The first-ever “Biggest Loser,” Ryan Benson, went from 330 pounds to 208 — but after the show, he said, he was so malnourished that he was urinating blood.
“They assume you’re going to talk to other contestants.” Another competitor, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, says that when she first checked in, a production assistant also took her cellphone and laptop for 24 hours. “The camera light on my Mac Book would sometimes come on when I hadn’t checked in,” she says.
“It was like Big Brother was always watching you.” The sequestration lasts five days.
“Just calorie restriction in and of itself has to be supervised,” Darby says. It’s just not safe.” Hibbard says she and other contestants sustained major physical damage.