Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Lasting Damage of The Biggest Loser (Part II) - Lawsuit Edition

By Fayerollinson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17999473
Yesterday saw the publication of an unbelievably damning paper that unequivocally condemned The Biggest Loser as a show that permanently damages contestants' metabolisms, and that it does so in a manner far greater than would have been expected by mathematical models based on contestants' ages, heights, weights, sexes and body compositions.

Now I know from chatting with former contestants, the show requires them to sign massive indemnity and non-disclosure agreements, and while I'm no lawyer, I wonder what legal standing former contestants might have to launch a class action lawsuit in response to the show's trashing of their metabolic futures?

Certainly, for consent to now be informed, participants must be told to expect that as a direct consequence of the show, when they're done, their metabolisms will burn far fewer calories than expected, and will leave them metabolically far worse off than were they instead to choose bariatric surgery.

If such informed consent is not obtained moving forward, I've little doubt there'd at least be a theoretical legal case. But even looking back, I can't help but wonder whether, indemnity waivers or not, there are grounds for former participants to sue the show for their severe metabolic damages? Certainly the writing was on the wall back in 2011 with the first Biggest Loser energy expenditure studies. And even if those hadn't been done, is not knowing a fulsome defence vs. inflicting lasting harm?

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