"The Biggest Loser" host Alison Sweeney said it's unfair to blame the reality TV weight-loss competition for the recent anorexia controversy surrounding season 15 winner Rachel Frederickson.
"What we focus on is helping people make changes," Sweeney told E! March 19. "But at the end of the day, it's every individual's responsibility to do what they think is best for them."
Alison said Rachel's jaw-dropping 150-pound weight loss was due to the former competitive swimmer's single-minded focus on winning "The Biggest Loser."
The 5-foot-4 Frederickson, who previously weighed 260 pounds, slimmed down to 105 pounds by the season finale. She has since regained 15 pounds, and looks a lot healthier.
"[Rachel] really kept her eye on that prize," said Sweeney, who herself has maintained a 30-pound weight loss for 16 years. "And two weeks later, she sort of found a happier body weight that she felt more comfortable with, which is how she looks now. She looks fantastic."
Frederickson's emaciated body on finale night (Feb. 5) immediately fueled rumors she was suffering from the eating disorders anorexia or bulimia, but she said her weight loss was healthy, and she did not starve herself. "I'm 100 percent healthy," she said.
Rachel's skeletal appearance drew alarmed gasps from trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper on finale night. Harper later confessed he was "stunned" by Rachel's drastic weight loss. Jillian called her weight loss extreme and "too much."
Meanwhile, Frederickson's trainer, Dolvett Quince, author of The 3-1-2-1 Diet, said Rachel lost weight the healthy way, and asked fans not to jump to conclusions.
Frederickson has insisted all along that she did not starve herself to slim down, saying she followed a 1,600-calorie-a-day diet and worked out up to eight hours a day. She said she walked for hours every day at a treadmill desk, squeezed in daily gym workouts, and took Zumba and spinning classes.
Looking back, Frederickson understands people's concerns, but insists she was — and remains — perfectly healthy. "I've been happy with every part of my journey and I know that I'll continue on," she said.
Rachel's super-skinny appearance outraged "Biggest Loser" fans, who said selecting someone who looks unhealthy as the winner sends the wrong message. Show executives responded to the criticism by saying they will tweak the weight-loss competition to provide more support and check-ins for the contestants after they leave the Biggest Loser ranch.