The amazing weight-loss journeys of the morbidly-obese individuals documented in the American reality-television show, “My 600-lb Life,” has inspired many of its viewers. It was also the reason why it’s been one of the most-watched TV series on the TLC network. Those who have been deemed inoperable by other surgeons were welcomed by the medical team headed by Dr. Younan Nowzaradan. The other doctors couldn’t be blamed, after all, the risk percentage was just too high, as most of these people weighed more than 600lbs, and some even reached up to 900lbs, over 400kgs.
The “My 600-lb Life” premise and its origins
Helping a morbidly-obese woman, Renee Williams, who weighed about 840lbs, was the inspiration behind “My 600-lb Life.” The TV production company Megalomedia, Inc. filmed a documentary about her search for help back in 2010; the search for the right doctor who was willing to help with her condition led her to Dr. Nowzaradan. At that time, most other surgeons did not want to touch her, because of the complications and the severity of her situation. The weight-loss surgery was successful, but her heart was in really bad shape, such that she died two weeks later. Her family was quite grateful for how the Megalomania handled the filming, and said that they were satisfied with the way the production team took care of Renee. To show their appreciation, they gave to the company the sole distribution rights of the documentary called “World’s Heaviest Woman,” later changed to “Half Ton Mum”
Megalomania pitched the documentary to the TLC network, and it was immediately picked up by the cable channel. When it was aired, it generated overwhelming interest from viewers, and inspired them to make a new documentary series on the topic of weight loss, entitled “Last Chance to Live”, which eventually became “My 600-lb Life.” The TV series premiered on 1 February 2012, and is now in its 10th season.
Each season, the TV series provided help for individuals willing to undergo weight-loss treatment. Not all were able to pursue their personal goals, but most of them succeeded in achieving a better life for themselves. Some of their stories ended tragically even with the help of experts. In the span of 10 seasons, the show helped around 125 people to lose weight successfully, through rehabilitation and bariatric surgery.
Meet Dr. Younan Nowzaradan
The man behind the successful life-changing transformations in “My 600-lb Life” was also the same surgeon, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, who agreed to operate on Renee Williams. It so happened that the good doctor was the father of Joseph Nowzaradan, who was at that time the President of Megalomania, Inc. When the studio company decided to continue producing documentaries on the weight-loss journeys of the morbidly-obese, they partnered with Dr. Nowzaradan, who was fondly called Dr. Now by his patients.
The Iranian-born surgeon with Assyrian ancestry was initially a heart surgeon. He finished his medical degree at the University of Tehran, and traveled to the US for his surgical internship at St. John Hospital in Detroit, and he also had a four-year residency at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. His Cardiovascular Fellowship was done at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston when he was invited by Dr. Denton Cooley, who was famous for being the first to perform artificial heart surgery on a living person.
Dr. Now never left Houston after that, and established a clinic there. For some reason, he switched from doing cardiovascular surgery to becoming a weight-loss expert, and was the first Houston surgeon to used the advantages of the laparoscopic techniques for other medical surgeries. He specialized in Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery, and also went on to offer post-by-pass corrective surgery to his patients who needed removal of excess skin. His amazing skills led him to become a champion for those who needed weight-loss procedures, and who’d been rejected by other doctors. However, his no-nonsense approach required his patients to follow his strict instructions, and he made them accountable for their actions. He didn’t take any excuses from his patients, but he always gave them options.
“My 600-lb Life” biggest contestants before and after surgery
My 600-lb Life Stars Who Are Completely Unrecognizable Today
Posted by The List on Thursday, January 16, 2020
The medical reality TV series “My 600-lb Life,” became the platform on which those persons with a Body Mass Index, or BMI of 40 and above could freely gain access to bariatric procedures such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric banding. Dr. Now didn’t ask for any professional service fee from those participating patients in the show, saying that while he needed to make a living, it didn’t mean he would get it from just about anybody who sought his skills. Here are the top four biggest patients featured in the show…..
Sean Milken with 919lbs – 1003lbs
When the fourth season aired, viewers were immediately drawn to the story of Sean Milken. At that time, he was the heaviest person to be featured in the TV show in its entirety – he came in weighing 919lbs (417 kgs). His weight problem started when he was about 10 years old, when his parents divorced and he was left in his father’s care. He had a difficult relationship with his father and used food to make himself feel better. His mother eventually took him from his father, but to make up for lost time, she indulged Sean and worsened his food addiction.
At the time Sean began filming for “My 600-lb Life,” he was 26 years old, and had become highly dependent on his mother because his knees were unable to support his body. Standing up for more than 30 seconds was difficult, and he needed oxygen to help him breathe properly. Having his mother as his enabler, he didn’t qualify for the weight-loss surgery because he couldn’t lose the required weight; in fact, after he received his diet plan, he blew up to 1003lbs (455kgs). The doctor had him admitted to the hospital to monitor him, which helped him lose about 260lbs, however, when he was released back into his mother’s care, he quickly regained 50lbs, so the doctor recommended sessions with a psychiatrist for both him and his mother. It worked, and eventually he lost more than 360lbs, which qualified him for gastric bypass surgery.
He actually lost 455lbs (206 kg), but when he went back home, he easily regained weight. For the next couple of years, his mother continued to indulge him, so his weight would go up when he was at home, and then down when he was admitted to the hospital. In his third year as Dr. Now’s patient, Sean’s mother passed away, and he couldn’t handle it well, so that his weight ballooned up to 766lbs. He was again admitted to the hospital, but an infection took his life as his heart couldn’t handle the stress that came with it. He was 29 years old when he died on 17 February 2019.
Samantha Mason with 940lbs – 974lbs
When Samantha Mason was featured in the ninth season of “My 600-lb Life,” she was the heaviest person on the weighing scale of Dr. Now with 940lbs (426 kgs). She became one of the most controversial individuals in the show, because she was an online fetish model who earned money by uploading videos of her gorging on food. Samantha received a lot of hate comments on social media due to her line of work. She struggled with her weight, but when she thought that she was going to die because of it, she participated in the TV show, to seek Dr. Now’s help.
— HEALTHYMES (@4fitnesshealthy) January 2, 2021
Just like most of the patients in the show, her weight struggle started when she was a little kid, when her parents divorced and she turned to food for comfort. For a time, she stayed with her dad and stepmother, who tried to restrict her alarming food intake. Due to their family dynamics, she hated it when they controlled her food addiction, and so during her visits with her mother, she was indulged and could eat whatever she wanted, and was over 300lbs by the time she was 12 years old. At 17 years of age, she dropped out of school, was pregnant, and weighed over 500lbs when she had her baby. A tragic motorcycle accident took her father’s life, which contributed to her weight gain, as she’d become closer to him that year, after he apologized for being drunk, mean and violent all those years. Depressed, she turned to food to make herself feel better.
During her time on the show, Dr. Now monitored her through video calls, because she was in Colorado and his hospital was in Houston. She was initially admitted to the Colorado hospital because of a fall. The good doctor told her that it was impressive that she could still stand up despite weighing close to 1,000lbs, but she needed to do something with her food intake before it was too late. She had a hard time losing the required weight, and needed medical intervention as soon as possible, or she wouldn’t last for another month. Since Dr. Now couldn’t take care of her personally in Colorado, he asked one of his colleagues based there, Dr. Heydari, to perform a gastric sleeve surgery on her as a last-ditch effort to keep Samantha from overeating. Three months after her surgery, she was down to 638lbs. She eventually lost around 478lbs (217 kg) in total, which was the biggest weight loss in the history of “My 600-lb Life.”
Julius “JT” Clark – 892lbs
In the fourth episode of the eighth season of “My 600-lb Life,” Julius “JT” Clark was introduced to the viewers. At 892lbs (404kgs), he was one of the biggest to feature in the reality-TV show. Before he stepped onto Dr. Now’s weighing scale, he thought he was 600-700lbs and it shocked him to find out that he was eight pounds away from being 900lbs. Despite his weight, he could still stand, take a bath, and prepare his food, but he depended highly on his girlfriend, Jessica, for the other things he needed in his life. He developed a food addiction because he turned to food for comfort whenever he wasn’t feeling good about his life when growing up. JT stopped going to school when he couldn’t fit into the chair anymore, and just worked in a fast-food restaurant to earn his keep, but was let go when he grew bigger.
Julius Clark, alias „J.T.“, aus Claremore in Oklahoma, lebt nur fürs Essen. Er bringt inzwischen 405 Kilo auf die Waage. Ob Dr. Now ihm helfen kann?
To meet Dr. Now, JT together with Jessica traveled from Claymore, Oklahoma to Houston, Texas. He had a hard time sitting on the floor in the back of the car where the seats were removed. Aside from his weight problem, he was also diagnosed with lymphedema on his left leg in 2008, which grew so big that it weighed about 100lbs. The doctor told him that removing it would be difficult at that time, but if he lost weight, it would be easier to address the problem. Dr. Now required JT to lose 150lbs to qualify for the weight-loss surgery, and with his lymphedema becoming infected, he was advised to stay in Houston to avoid traveling back and forth to Claymore.
Jessica broke up with him which didn’t surprise the viewers, especially considering how he’d treated her in the past. JT then spent a few months in a rehabilitation center to help him lose weight, but had a difficult time there, and wasn’t losing as much weight as was expected of him, mostly because of his attitude. Eventually he changed, was released from rehab, and moved to a shared home in Houston. Dr. Now told him to be less than 600lbs on his next scheduled appointment – Sean was disappointed when he weighed 619lbs when he next consulted with him, but the doctor saw his effort and approved the weight-loss surgery. He lost a total of 400lbs, and Dr. Now was impressed, saying that he might be far away from his personal goal of 220lbs, but if he reached 450lbs, then he would have his lymphedema removed. JT continued working on losing weight.
Robert Buchel with 842lbs
One of the most tragic moments in “My 600-lb Life” was the death of Robert Buchel of Forked, New Jersey, while he was filming for the sixth season of the TV show. When he was weighed in for the first time in Dr. Now’s clinic, he was 842lbs. Aside from his obesity, he was also taking too many painkillers, without realizing that he was already addicted to them. To ensure that he would qualify for weight-loss surgery, his addiction to the painkillers was also addressed in the hospital, and plans were also made to remove his lymphedema.
Robert’s weight problem started when he was a kid – his eating habits changed because he had an unlimited food source when his parents opened up a fast-food chicken restaurant. He considered himself some sort of an outcast because he was born with a club foot, and had a hearing problem. His mother said that he never had a great relationship with his brothers growing up, because he was sickly and that the other sons were probably jealous of all the extra care she gave Robert. His weight problem worsened when he was molested by another boy who lived near him; the molester told him that he would kill Robert if he told anyone about it. He turned to food for comfort, and since his parents were quite busy with their business, they never realized what had happened to him.
TLC’s “My 600-lb Life” may not be for everyone, since the show was criticized for airing some footage that shouldn’t have been shown to the public; some viewers thought it exploited the situation of those obese individuals. This may be true but the reality-TV series also helped to spread awareness about the dangers of food addiction, drug addiction, and inadvertently becoming enablers to those struggling with their weight. While not all of the weight-loss journeys that were documented in the show ended on a good note, it inspired the morbidly obese to seek help from the right people, and know that they could have a quality life ahead of them. if they were willing to do something about it.