Ten has hit back after Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) attacked The Biggest Loser with claims that the new series' teenage contestants could suffer mental and physical issues as a result of being on the show. The network branded the accusations "incorrect and misleading".
The eating disorders group wants people to lobby producers Shine Australia to "reconsider" its inclusion of teenagers in its upcoming Next Generation series. It has published a petition on its website, supported by a pre-written letter addressed to Shine.
The organisation claimed the popular show has "a long history of shaming overweight contestants". It argued that the weight loss struggles of teenagers should not be used as "entertainment" for audiences. Adolescents should not be exposed to "the dubious weight loss and diet techniques" of the show, said EDV, slamming them as "gruelling [...] and generally unsustainable for any long period of time".
The group went on to blame the show's "shaming" of contestants as contributing to a culture that "values thinness above all else".
Ten has refuted the concerns. A spokesperson told AdNews: "Network Ten and Shine are fully aware of the duty of care we have towards all contestants, including the one contestant in this year’s series who is aged under 18. We take that duty of care very seriously. We fully understand our responsibilities. To suggest otherwise is incorrect and misleading.
"All contestants work with highly qualified and professional trainers, nutritionists and psychologists. The well-being of the contestants is always our number one concern."
Ten also said it was "not in the business of shaming contestants and has a long history of helping both contestants and viewers" address their weight issues.
EDV did not contact Ten directly about its concerns, according to the network. "If Eating Disorders Victoria has serious concerns about The Biggest Loser, we are more than happy to discuss them with it,” it said.
The Biggest Loser will premiere on Sunday 17 March on Network Ten.
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