The Dark Side to NBC’s Biggest Loser

articleInline“When more than 40 former contestants from “The Biggest Loser” gather Wednesday for a reunion television special, the winner of the program’s first season, Ryan C. Benson, who lost 122 of his 330-pound starting weight, will be absent. Mr. Benson is now back above 300 pounds but he thinks he has been shunned by the show because he publicly admitted that he dropped some of the weight by fasting and dehydrating himself to the point that he was urinating blood.”

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that there could be a dark side to any reality program, especially one whose intentions seem honorable.  But NBC’s The Biggest Loser is capitalizing on obese people with the double prong of huge weight loss and a sum of money ($250,000) that will change their lives.  Except the weight loss, which is mostly due to a combination of dehydration, fasting and other supplements, is physically harmful the contestants.

“I’m waiting for the first person to have a heart attack,” Dr. Charles Burant, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and Health System director of the Michigan Metabolomics and Obesity Center, told the New York Times. “I have had some patients who want to do the same thing, and I counsel them against it. I think the show is so exploitative. They are taking poor people who have severe weight problems whose real focus is trying to win the quarter-million dollars.”

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