Suzanne Mendonca, a former contestant on The Biggest Loser, is spearheading a class-action lawsuit against the show, saying producers withheld water from contestants, forced them to overexercise, and "discarded them when the cameras stopped rolling," TMZ reports.
Mendonca, who appeared on Season 2 of the weight-loss reality show, and other disgruntled former contestants recently spoke to the New York Post. In addition to noting that they've regained nearly all the weight they lost on the show back, the alums claim that contestants were encouraged to take drugs, starve themselves, and lie about how many pounds they were shedding. They also criticized the integrity of the show's doctor, Rob Huizenga.
"People were passing out in Dr. H's office at the finale weigh-in," Mendonca told the Post. "On my season, five people had to be rushed to the hospital."
Other former contestants allege that trainer/host Bob Harper gave contestants Adderall and "yellow jacket" pills that contained Ephedra, an energy booster that was banned by the FDA in 2004. "People would take amphetamines, water pills, diuretics, and throw up in the bathroom," Mendonca says. "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.'
"The Biggest Loser doesn't save lives," she continued. "It ruins lives. Mentally, emotionally, financially -- you come back a different person. Half the people from my season have gotten divorced. The ripple effect isn't just weeks or months. It's years."
NBC has yet to renew The Biggest Loser for an 18th season, but issued the following statement to the Post: "The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and always has been, paramount. We prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety."