By Katie Galyean
The Biggest Loser has been running for 17 seasons and has become known for its contestant’s extreme weight loss. Now a common household name, some contestants are starting to protest the show’s methods.
At the end of this past May, several of the former contestants, including Suzanne Mendonca of season 2, Kai Hibbard of season 3, and Joelle Gwynn of season 7, told the New York Post they had been given weight loss pills, treated harshly, and did not receive proper medical treatment while on the show.
Mendonca, who has gained back 150 pounds since competing on the show, told the New York Post that the show “look[s] at us like we’re failures today, but we were not going to succeed. They threw us away like yesterday’s garbage.”
Local Biggest Loser contestant Vicki Clark of Bladenboro said that she and her daughter, Lauren Clark of Bladenboro, never experienced what the other contestants are claiming to have gone through while on the show.
“Lauren and I had packed around (5) 100 powder boxes of BC powders, my mouthwash, NyQuil, blood pressure pills, vitamins and calcium supplements and it was all confiscated,” said Clark. “I can’t imagine the show advocating any type of drug use.”
Clark also said that she and her daughter knew what they were signing up for before they started in the competition. “It was hard. But I knew it would be going into the experience,” she said. “Anyone auditioning should be astute enough to research and watch old episodes. We’re all adults and voluntarily auditioned for the show. It was harsh, but we signed up for harsh!”
Clark also made a point to mention that she was treated very well while on the show. “All the staff were very kind and loving towards me,” she said.
Season 5 winner, Ali Vincent, also defended The Biggest Loser to the New York Daily News, even though she has also regained her former weight. She told them the weight she had gained back was her fault and not the show’s.
In a video interview with TMZ, Vincent said, “How I gained weight was by not applying the tools I learned on Biggest Loser.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the sports doctor from the Biggest Loser, Robert Huizenga, has sued Gywnn and the New York Post as of the beginning of June. He claims that the statements made about him giving out weight loss pills and giving questionable medical exams in the New York Post’s article were false.
Clark said that she could not speak for everyone else’s experience on the show, but she was sad to see the lawsuit come up. “A lot of people, myself included, have enjoyed watching the show. I’d hate to see it discontinued,” she said.
Clark also wanted to encourage others trying to lose weight. “It’s hard for me to find or make the time to workout. When I was on the ranch my job was to eat right and exercise. Now I have to squeeze it in around my real job! But we make time for the things important to us and my health is important,” she said.
Clark also included some advice. “Start small and work up to 90 minutes of exercise daily. Eat whole foods: the kind that comes out of the ground or had a mother. Avoid processed foods and shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. Eat meatless one day a week, make time to fast and pray! And remember, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”