Stuck

Why we can't (or won't) move on from bad jobs, bad relationships, and bad habits, and how we can all move ahead.

Did "The Biggest Loser" Cause Contestant's Anorexia?

A finalist claims she developed an eating disorder.

Kai Hibbard, who was a finalist during season 3 of the weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser, says she developed an eating disorder while participating in the show.

In interviews with Golda Poretsky, a holistic health counselor who operates BodyLoveWellness.com, Hibbard -- who lost 118 pounds during the course of the show -- said that the show is very hard on contestants' bodies and minds. Last week, she told Poretsky:

"Unfortunately, what they're telling you the contestants are doing and what they actually have the contestants doing are two different things, at least as far as my season goes.  We were working out anywhere between 2 and 5 hours a day, and we were working out severely injured. There's absolutely no reason to work a 270-pound girl out so hard that she pukes. ...

"There was this interference between the people who were actually probably trying to get us healthy from the people who wanted a good television show.

"I think when I was on the actual ranch we were eating between 1,000 and 1,200 calories a day, I'm not certain.  The thing is, it got worse when I got home. ... I got to a point where I was only eating about 1,000 calories a day and I was working out between 5 and 8 hours a day. . . .  And my hair started to fall out.  I was covered in bruises.  I had dark circles under my eyes. ... My period stopped altogether and I was only sleeping 3 hours a night.  I tried to tell the T.V. show about it and I was told, 'Save it for the camera.'

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

"At that point, my boyfriend at the time, who's now my husband, and my best friend and my family stepped in and they said, ‘Hey, crazy, you're going to die if you keep this up.'  At that point was doing really fun things like not eating at all. ... My major food groups were water, black coffee and splenda.  I got to the point that when I was nervous or upset I was literally vomiting my food up. ... And I was so afraid of food at that point I ... bought a bag of snickerdoodle cookies and a quart of milk and a box of Ex-Lax and I ate them all together.  And I knew that I was in trouble. And it was at this point that I was like, ‘Hey, where are those doctors and that psychologist that are supposed to be following up and keeping an eye on me?'"

Hibbard said her family and husband helped her start eating balanced meals again. The first one, oatmeal and and omelet, "took me an hour and a half and I cried through the whole thing."

The reality show, she said, "gave me a really fun eating disorder that I battle every day, and it also messed up my mental body image because the lighter I got during that T.V. show, the more I hated my body.  And I tell you what, at 144 and at 262 and at 280, I had never hated my body before that show."

At her own blog, the young Alaskan explains that after giving the interview, she received "threatening letters" from NBCUniversal: "But, I guess, if your [sic] going to tell the truth, you're going to be unpopular. ... I think I can take the hate."

Anneli Rufus is the author of many books, including Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto and Stuck: Why We Can't (or Won't) Move On.

more...

Subscribe to Stuck

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.