After a shocking study released in May 2016 suggested that most contestants on The Biggest Loser gain back a significant amount of weight once the show is over, fans of the show are realizing that all may not be what it seems.
The study says that malfunctioning metabolisms are to blame — after six years, the former contestants had severely slower metabolisms, burning on average 500 calories less each day than a typical person of his or her size — but the show's executive producer claims the issue lies in not paying enough attention to the mindset of the contestant. In fact, a Biggest Loser spinoff will focus on fixing the underlying problem behind the weight loss.
More recently, former Biggest Loser contestants have come forward, publicly accusing the show's trainers of pressuring them to take weight loss drugs to spur dramatic results.
"Bob Harper was my trainer," says Joelle Gwynn, a former contestant, told The New York Post. "He goes away and his assistant comes in. He's got this brown paper bag that's bundled up. He says, 'Take this drug, it'll really help you.' It was yellow and black. I was like, 'What the f--k is this?'"
"I felt jittery and hyper," she continued. "I went and told the sports medicine guy. The next day, [the resident doctor on the show, Dr. Rob Huizenga] gave us some lame explanation of why they got added to our regimen and that it was up to us to take them."
According the The Post, other show insiders claim that instances like that weren't rare, and that Harper and his assistant would routinely offer Adderall and "yellow jackets" to contestants. Gwynn also said that she was encouraged to lie about other aspects of her weight loss — like doubling her caloric intake reports.
"People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom," another contestant, Suzanna Mendonca, told the Post. "They would take their spin bikes into the steam room to work up a sweat. I vomited every single day. Bob Harper tells people to throw up: 'Good,' he says. 'You'll lose more calories.'"
Harper denied the claims on Sunday, telling PEOPLE that he would never encourage dangerous behavior.
"These allegations are absolutely false and are in direct conflict with my lifelong devotion to health and fitness," he told PEOPLE. "Safety is paramount in my training regimen and, while demanding, my approach has always focused on the overall well-being of contestants as they lose significant weight and educate themselves, for the first time, on living a healthy lifestyle."
In addition to other contestants coming forward and denying that they were ever offered weight loss drugs or expediters, Dr. H. responded to the accusations in an email to The Post, saying the show has a no-tolerance policy on drugs.
"Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight-loss drugs," he said. "Urine drug screens and the evaluation of serial weights are repeatedly used to flush out possible illicit use."