The National Assn. to Advance Fat Acceptance calls it "appalling" that the new season of "The Biggest Loser" will include young teenagers.
Season 14 of NBC's reality weight-loss competition begins Sunday night and will include three teenagers -- two 13-year-olds and a 16-year-old.
The casting decision has sparked controversy in some circles, with critics worrying that the experience will stigmatize the children involved.
In a statement issued late Friday night NAAFA accused the show of trying to "profit off the bullying and stigmatization of fat kids" and said that lasting harm is done to children by focusing on body size and weight loss.
"I am concerned that The Biggest Loser promotes short-term weight loss and does long-term harm to the bodies, minds, and spirits of many of its contestants and viewers --precipitating eating disorders, weight gain, depression, and weight-based bullying," Barbara Altman Bruno, a NAAFA advisory board member and clinical social worker, said in the statement. "That they are now involving teenagers is appalling."
[Updated, 7:41 p.m., Jan. 5: A representative for the show released the following statement Saturday: "The show itself is the best evidence of our intentions and approach. We encourage people to tune in to "The Biggest Loser" on January 6 to see that the kid participants on the show will follow an age-appropriate program that emphasizes getting healthy rather than numbers on a scale. As you'll see, the kids are handled with great care, support and encouragement to help them live a healthier lifestyle."]