Newly released videos showing pop icon Michael Jackson's concert rehearsals two days before his death show the singer's gaunt figure -- a physique that has sparked speculation about his eating habits.
With reports from Jackson's autopsy documenting his weight at the time of his death yet to be released, there has thus far been no solid evidence that Jackson was suffering from an eating disorder. But that has not stopped the media from raising such a possibility following his death on June 25.
Some of those who were close to the star said that his eating habits did not point to the presence of an eating disorder -- at least not in the traditional sense.
"He was just careful about what he ate; he just tried to be healthy," said Kevin McLin, a friend of the family and Jackson's former publicist. "He ate turkey burgers, Chinese food, a lot of vegetables. He always tried to eat healthy stuff. ... He tried to stay away from red meat."
Mike LaPerruque, a security specialist who worked for Jackson from 2001 to 2004, and again from 2007 to 2008, said that he "never saw any signs of any kind of eating disorder, and I never saw anything that would raise any suspicion in my mind that this was the case."
LaPerruque further noted that when he was working with Jackson, he was often responsible for taking the food from hotel room service and placing it on the table for the pop star and his children.
"I always saw what they were eating, and it was always healthy -- chicken, brown rice, vegetables," he said. "He was always eating healthy."
But others who interacted with Jackson in the time before his death described a far different routine. In a recent interview, Randy Phillips, CEO of concert promoter AEG, said that a concert director would "cut [Jackson's] chicken breast" for him.
"In the last week, I brought in someone whose sole purpose was to remind him to eat," Phillips added.
And comments from Lou Ferrigno, who personally helped Jackson train for his upcoming tour, suggest that his eating regimen was far from ideal.
"[H]e only ate once a day," Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series, said in an interview that aired June 30 on "Good Morning America". "But I just told him the proper supplements to take."
Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y., said he would not be surprised if reports that Jackson had only been eating one meal a day turned out to be true -- especially if the singer had been taking a number of different medications, as some of those close to him have suggested.
"One meal a day is not enough, but it is not unusual for someone who was on a lot of medications," he said. "If he was on Demerol, for instance, this slows the gut down, and he may have felt full a lot."
Regardless of the reason, however, Ayoob said he believes Jackson's skinny appearance suggests a problem.
"He may not have had an eating disorder in the sense of anorexia or binging and purging," Ayoob said. "It may be that the medications he was on made food taste funny or suppressed his appetite. So it may not have been an eating disorder in the traditional sense. As far as keeping his weight down, I'm not sure that was Michael's intention."
Still, some have attributed Jackson's apparent low weight to the strenuous schedule he adopted for his upcoming concert tour.