Former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard tells CBS' The Early Show "I participated in a myth that hurts people"
Earlier this year, former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard sat down with me in her Pinellas County home to describe how she felt the show had risked her health and forever damaged the way she saw food -- pushing contestants to greater health risks than the show ever discloses.
Now Hibbard has brought her story to the largest audience yet, sitting down on CBS' The Early Show at 8 a.m. today to talk further about her experiences, an appearance sparked by a more recent online interview in which she talked in detail about the punishing experience of doing the show. Those comments were picked up by super-popular online gossiper Perez Hilton (though the post now appears to have disappeared from his site), giving her story wider circulation.
"I participated in a myth that hurts people," she told the Early Show this morning, with her husband Jake Zwierstra by her side. "I need to take blame and responsibility for the fact that I helped perpetuate a myth that's dangerous."
Appearing by satellite from Tampa, Hibbard outlined many of the same stories featured in my story months ago: That the show stretches time to make contestants seem to lose more weight over a week than is generally possible; that she was pushed so hard by producers to lose weight it gave her an eating disorder and made her hair fall out; that her family staged an intervention with a trainer and therapist when her at-home workouts and eating got too crazy.
She also said at least six other contestants have told her they experienced similar issues during their time on the show.
"The weight loss on that show is for ratings...It's a TV show that's made to look like a weight loss camp," said Hibbard who talked to me about how contestants dehydrated themselves to lose maximum weight before the weigh-in segments, wearing plastic bags and heavy clothing during workout in ways the cameras never show. "I left knowing how (to lose weight through dehydration) better than some fitness competitors I know."
Saying she has taken no money for her story, Hibbard hinted at possible retaliation from Loser network NBC, saying she nevertheless felt obligated to speak up. "I am putting my family at financial risk to tell the truth," she said. "I participated in something I feel is harmful to so many people, so I own the responsibility to make it better."
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