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NBC Under Pressure to Cancel ‘The Biggest Loser’

The Biggest Loser - Season 3The Biggest Loser - Season 3
Kai Hibbard (L) appearing on NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Photo by Trae Patton—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

After nearly two decades on the air, The Biggest Loser has been seeing its ratings drop. The 17th season of the reality show averaged roughly 3.5 million nightly viewers. That’s a steep drop for a show that never averaged fewer than eight million nightly viewers in any of its first 11 seasons.

And now, there’s more bad news for The Biggest Loser, which airs on Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBCUniversal. A couple of former contestants on are demanding that NBC cancel the show.

Two former Biggest Loser contestants—season two’s Suzanne Mendonca and season three’s Kai Hibbard—both told The New York Post on Sunday that the show should be removed from the air. Mendonca, who appeared on the show in 2005, told the Post that the reality program “needs to be done, canceled, destroyed” while accusing the show of tossing former contestants aside “like yesterday’s garbage.” Hibbard, who appeared on the show in 2006, told the publication that Biggest Loser “should’ve been canceled 10 years ago.”

Those comments come in the wake of another Post story over the weekend in which multiple former Biggest Loser contestants claimed that some employees of the show provided contestants with illicit diet pills, an allegation denied by the producers.

The backlash also comes a few weeks after the New York Times published findings from a government-backed study performed by a division of the National Institutes of Health. The study tracked 14 former Biggest Loser contestants and found that all but one of them regained all of the weight they lost on the show within six years after appearing on the program. What’s more, four of those contestants actually ended up weighing more than they did at the beginning of the competition. The study found that the show’s format—which pushes contestants to lose weight quickly through intense dieting and exercise—slowed down contestants’ metabolic rates to the point that their metabolisms did not recover even years after their time on the show had ended.

“To continue this body-shaming physically and psychologically damaging monstrosity with future contestants in light of this current study and others is irresponsible and unconscionable,” season three contestant Hibbard told the Post.

When reached for comment, a spokeswoman for NBC referred Fortune to The Biggest Loser‘s producers at Endemol Shine North America. In an e-mailed statement provided to Fortune, The Biggest Loser‘s producers called the NIH study “interesting for everyone who struggles to lose weight and maintain weight loss,” but also claimed that “many former contestants” on the show have successfully kept weight off long after appearing on Biggest Loser.

The producers also addressed some former contestants’ claims that they were provided with weight-loss drugs by the show’s employees. “The safety and well-being of our contestants is, and has always been, paramount,” the producers said in the statement. “Contestants are told at the start of the show that there is zero tolerance for any weight loss drugs. We prohibit the use of any illegal substances, in addition to the many other rules and procedures of the show that are designed to ensure safety.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of the NIH study and the reports from the Post, some other former Biggest Loser contestants have taken to Facebook (FB) to voice their support for the program.

In recent years, though, the program has seen ratings fall off and NBC has relied more on popular new shows such as singing competition The Voice.