“I feel badly that some people from the show went back to some bad decision making patterns and gained the weight back, and felt ashamed,” Roth tells PEOPLE. “Here they are, they won the lottery and got on the show and lost all the weight and then gained it back.”
Roth says that examining their experience can help people lose weight for good.
“What can we learn from someone who lost 200 lbs. and gained back? What emotional hurdle could they not get over that another contestant who lost 200 lbs. and kept it off was able to do? I wanted to compare the differences, and get these people back on track,” he says.
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Roth dismisses the theory presented in the headline-making study published in The New York Times, which followed former contestants and found that their metabolism is permanently damaged by the extreme weight loss tactics on the show.
“I cancelled my subscription that day. Not only did they not call the creator of the show [Roth], but they also never compared the people who gained the weight back on The Biggest Loser with the ones who kept it off. If they had shown the science, that the metabolism of the people who kept the weight off, has the same issue as the people who gained the weight back, that would be interesting,” he says.
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Roth believes it comes down to their mindset, and those that regained the weight weren’t able to let go of their former self.
He cites the first-ever winner, Ryan Benson — who will be on The Big Fat Truth — as one example.
“He said, ‘I collected my check for $250,000, went straight to my favorite hamburger place, and never looked back.’ So for him, he never made the emotional commitment to really want to change,” Roth says.
“And for every contestant it’s different. Life gets in the way sometimes, and they can’t keep up with the good decision-making they were doing before. And for some of them, I think they never solved those emotional problems. It’s always going to be there, but you have to figure out how to get past it.”
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Roth — who readily admits that he has no background in science or medicine — says the researchers needed to perform a double-blind study for him to be convinced that the show damaged contestants’ metabolisms.
“Everyone needs to see both sides of that story. And if it’s true, and you do a double-blind study and you compare it to the 50 percent of people who lost weight on The Biggest Loser and kept it off, then it’s even more interesting if it’s true. So I’m willing to learn,” he says.
Roth says he would “love” to redo the study, but for now he’s content to help the former contestants — along with moms, type 2 diabetics, nurses and more — on his new show.
“For the last 15 years, I’ve been kind of at the forefront of the weight loss genre in television, and I love it,” he says. “I love watching people transform in front of my eyes, I love watching the human spirit take hold, and watching a person find themselves again. It’s always been about more than weight loss.”
The Big Fat Truth premieres Sunday, June 11 at 8 p.m. ET on Z Living