He says the show will now prioritize helping contestants after they've left the show.

By Renee Cherry
August 02, 2019
Andrew Toth/Getty Images

Bob Harper announced on The Today Show that he'll be joining the Biggest Loser reboot. While he was a trainer on previous seasons, Harper will take on a new role as host when the show returns. (Related: Bob Harper Reminds Us That Heart Attacks Can Happen to Anyone)

During his interview, Harper said that his new role as host won't be the only change to the show, which will premiere in 2020 on USA. "I hope to still be doing a little training in there, I can't help it," he said. "But we're going to have new trainers, a new medical team. This show is going to be better than ever." (Related: How Bob Harper's Fitness Philosophy Has Changed Since His Heart Attack)

The Biggest Loser debuted in 2004 and lasted 17 seasons, ending in 2016. Contestants exercise and diet in hopes of losing the highest percentage of weight and winning a cash prize. Especially in recent years, The Biggest Loser has received a lot of criticism, both for the trainers' methods used on the show and its premise alone. Several former contestants have come forward saying that their time on the show had negative ramifications. One woman, Kai Hibbard, said she developed an eating disorder after the show, and stopped getting her period while the show's trainers pushed her to get back on the treadmill. Other contestants told the New York Post that a doctor who worked on the show offered them Adderall and "yellow jackets" to help with weight loss, leading to an ongoing defamation lawsuit between the doctor and the New York Post.

In addition, a 2016 story published in the New York Times shed doubt on whether the weight-loss methods on the show are sustainable. A researcher followed 14 former Biggest Loser contestants over the course of six years. Thirteen of the 14 had gained weight, and four weighed even more than they had weighed going into the show.

In response to the criticism, Harper asserted that the show will be making positive changes. "Whenever you talk about weight loss, it is always going to be controversial, always," he said in his Today Show interview. "But we're trying to approach it in a completely different way. We want to help them while they're on the show and when they go home. The aftercare, I think, is going to be super important for them. Because you come on to our show, and you're learning so much, and when it's time for you to go back home, it can be a really hard adjustment."

USA and SyFy Networks President, Chris McCumber, also previously said that the new version of the show will focus more on contestants' overall well-being compared to the original.

Throughout its run, The Biggest Loser has had a gradual drop in viewership, with 10.3 million viewers in its first season compared to 4.8 million in its 13th. And in the three years since The Biggest Loser has gone off-air, body positivity and anti-diet movements have only gained more visibility. That said, our collective appetite for before-and-after weight-loss inspiration hasn't wavered. Time will tell if the show's changes are enough to spark a comeback.

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