What is “My 600-Lb Life”?

Premiered in 2012 on TLC, “My 600-lb Life” follows the lives of morbidly obese people for a year, with new faces being introduced in each episode. The participants of the series are pushed to the limits by medical professionals as they struggle to lose weight, make lasting lifestyle changes, and battle their crippling food addiction.

Every participant weighs between 500 and 600 pounds when their episode begins. “Where Are They Now?” episodes begin filming a year after the original episodes are broadcast, and have mostly happy endings, although some participants have died or suffered severe medical complications.

Younan Nowzaradan, commonly known as Dr. Now, is the no-nonsense Iranian-American surgeon who guides patients through their weight loss journeys, including putting them on a restrictive diet. In some cases, he offers gastric bypasses or sleeve gastrectomy surgery as a way to lose weight, but far from being an easy fix, those patients who do undergo surgery have to put in twice as much effort to maintain the results.

Originally, “My 600-lb Life” was a miniseries with five episodes that focused on four patients, but extra episodes and follow-ups soon followed due to the show’s popularity. The format also changed drastically, as series one was filmed between 2004 and 2011, and in later series some patients were filmed for as little as half a year. In season five, episodes doubled in length to two hours. Viewers can enjoy unseen footage and behind-the-scenes info in the “Extended” and “Supersized” recap episodes.

American insurance refuses to cover bariatric surgery due to its cost. Dr. Now doesn’t charge the  participants in the series; instead, patients are paid $1,500 by the network, and are also offered $2,500 to relocate to Texas if necessary, to be closer to the surgeon. Some fans of “My 600-lb Life” wonder how Dr. Now earns any money from the show; it would appear that the network covers most of the costs.

Dr. Now

Dr. Now was born in October 1944 in Tehran, Iran. He is a well-known author, doctor, and now TV personality who specializes in vascular and bariatric surgery, and has become famous for his work on “My 600-lb Life”, his passion project of over a decade.

The surgeon graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tehran in 1970, then due to a lack of work opportunities in his home country, he moved to the United States, where he participated in a Medical Orientation Program at Saint Louis University, and did a Rotating Surgical Internship at St. John’s Hospital.

Dr. Now currently works closely with Houston Obesity Surgery, and practices at hospitals in the area. He is an expert in the field of obesity and laparoscopy, and has published many papers on these topics which have been of help to other professionals.

Apart from filming for “My 600-lb Life”, Dr. Now is no stranger to the TV industry, and has appeared in “Half Ton Dad”, “Half Ton Mum”, and “Half Ton Teen”, three episodes of “Body Shock”. His two books, “The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do” and “Last Chance to Live” were published in 2007 and 2019 respectively. Before becoming a celebrity, Dr. Now promoted healthy lifestyles by visiting Texan theme parks such as Six Flags Astroworld, where he would give young people rousing speeches, and answer questions.

Dr. Now is a man of few words, which has created much intrigue around his public image. We can reveal that he married Delores McRedmond in 1975; the couple were married for almost 30 years, and have three children. Their son, Jonathan, is a director and producer of “600-lb Life”, whereas his siblings have shown no interest in following their father’s footsteps with a TV career.

The famous surgeon doesn’t give many interviews either, and has yet to reveal how he feels about being fired from his own show due to numerous lawsuits. That’s right: Dr. Now was dismissed by TLC in April 2022, and many patients whom he previously approved for surgery are now left in an awkward situation.

Over the years, Dr. Now has been hit with many pricey lawsuits that can take years to resolve. The insurance company he was working with has also reportedly dropped him, and refuses to cover his newest patients; they were the driving force behind “My 600-lb Life”, paying for the surgeon’s work and additional care, and so have left patients in the lurch.

Allegedly, participants were given the chance to move states and be operated on by other physicians associated with TLC, or stay in Texas and be operated on by the doctor who is currently working out of Dr. Now’s practice. TLC definitely has a problem on its hands, as many viewers tune in for Dr. Now, and consider him the best fit on the show. Only time will tell what happens to “My 600-lb Life”

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Legal Troubles

Despite starring in such a high-profile show, few people could’ve imagined that the quiet Dr. Now would become such a legal liability. Over the years, the surgeon has been sued for malpractice several times, mostly by patients of “600-lb Life” who weren’t satisfied after appearing in the show. Dr. Now is a somewhat controversial figure, and argues with patients on-screen in almost every episode, as he refuses to sugarcoat the truth, and doesn’t hesitate to berate them when they don’t lose enough weight.

In 2007, Dr. Now was sued by Colleen Shephard when one of her family members, Tina, died a year after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. According to Colleen, Dr. Now didn’t do the necessary aftercare or follow up on Tina’s health; he himself has claimed that Tina never showed up to the mandatory follow-up appointments.

Five years later, coinciding with the premiere of “My 600-lb Life”, Dr. Now was sued by two patients: one of whom claimed that the surgeon had left a 6-inch piece of tubing inside her, thus puncturing her colon, and one who claimed that he had improperly diagnosed her husband. Both suits were later dismissed, but it was undoubtedly a stressful time for the doctor.

The Doctor From My 600-LB Life Is Very Shady

The Doctor From My 600-LB Life Is Very Shady

Posted by Nicki Swift on Sunday, May 13, 2018

More disgruntled patients have come out of the woodwork over the years: one filed a lawsuit for the eye-watering amount of $250 million, claiming that her abdominoplasty procedure had gone horribly wrong due to negligence, but the case was dismissed in 2018. As of 2022, Dr. Now has one ongoing lawsuit, as the family members of a 72-year-old patient claim that he left tubes and a stainless steel connector inside her, which would seem highly unlikely.

Megalomedia, the show’s production company, has also landed itself in hot water on various occasions. According to the family of one participant named L.B Bonner, the company committed gross negligence by pressuring L.B into filming, then failing to provide mental health aftercare.

Another participant, David Bolton, has an ongoing lawsuit with Megalomedia, who he claims failed to provide mental health assistance. L.B and David’s families also claim that Megalomedia and “My 600-lb Life” failed to pay all the charges as promised. David allegedly had to pay for the surgery and post-surgical care himself, which was a mentally distressful experience for him.

Sean Milliken

Sean Milliken is remembered for being the heaviest patient on “600-lb Life” at the time his episode was filmed, weighing a staggering 919 pounds. The then-26-year-old was mostly bedbound and lived with his mother, who took care of his basic necessities with help from a friend of the family. His vast size meant that Sean couldn’t breathe without oxygen, and his legs could no longer support him.

A recurring pattern can be seen amongst patients of the shows, namely, the common traits they share: a family member who enabled their excessive weight gain, and some sort of trauma, typically stemming from negative childhood experiences. Sean was no different, and claimed that he began comfort eating as a child to cope with his father’s verbal abuse.

Sean’s mother struggled with weight herself, and admitted to having indulged her son’s habits; every time she went out for groceries, she would buy him an unhealthy snack or ‘treat’. Sean’s parents divorced when he was ten years old, and feeling somewhat responsible, he began binge eating again to cope with his feelings. One thing led to another, and when in high school, Sean weighed over 400 pounds.

In his senior year of high school, Sean was left bedridden for a long time after injuring his leg and ankle in a fall. His mother felt sympathy for him and fed him all the food he asked for; thus, Sean was trapped in a vicious cycle – the more he ate, the more weight he put on, and the longer he remained bedbound.

Dr. Now was shocked when Sean traveled from California to Houston to see him. The young patient’s left leg was severely swollen, and he didn’t appear interested in making permanent changes to his lifestyle; Dr. Now was also concerned by the unhealthy mother-son dynamic he was witnessing. The bariatric surgeon put Sean on an 800-calorie-a-day meal plan, and aimed for him to lose up to 100 pounds over the following couple of months.

Two months later, Sean greatly disappointed Dr. Now at his follow-up visit. Far from losing any weight, the doctor estimated that Sean had gained between 50 and 100 pounds, and so decided to closely monitor his diet by admitting him to the hospital. Sean was weighed in, and had put on over 80 pounds; two months later, he had lost 259 pounds thanks to a restrictive diet, and Dr. Now decided to discharge him.

Sadly, Sean put 43 pounds back on in the month after he was discharged, due to his lack of self-control and his mother’s enabling ways. Dr. Now forced mother and son to talk to a psychotherapist, which seemed to help, as Sean lost 367 pounds overall by the end of the seventh month of filming, and now qualified for weight loss surgery. After successfully undergoing gastric bypass surgery, he had lost 455 pounds in total – almost half his initial weight.

Sean’s “Where Are They Now?” episode aired in 2017. Although the patient was slowly losing weight, but the relationship between him and his mother was as unhealthy as ever. Dr. Now compared her behavior to Munchausen by proxy, claiming that she, as Sean’s caregiver, was exacerbating his ‘illness’ to keep him dependent on her.

Sean’s mother retaliated by bringing her son to the hospital, and accusing Dr. Now of not providing him with basic care. An unpleasant discussion ensued in which Dr. Now told Sean’s mother that she was harming and killing her son – it was revealed that Sean had begun gaining weight yet again. Dr. Now had to take tough decisions, and admitted Sean into hospital for a month, only allowing his mother to visit once a week. In four weeks, Sean shed 50 pounds and was beginning to realize how dependent he was on his mother when he was discharged. Unsurprisingly, he had regained the 50 pounds by his next doctor’s appointment.

By the beginning of his third year with Dr. Now, Sean weighed 493 pounds, but his mother had died from renal failure, and Sean began overeating again to cope with the loss, and his health deteriorated drastically. Halfway through year three, Sean was back to 668 pounds, and a few months later had gained over 40 more. He stayed in the hospital for two months, and was back down to 489 pounds; Dr. Now was understandably reluctant to release him, and with good reason, as Sean gained 278 pounds in a matter of months, and had to be admitted yet again.

Two weeks after returning to the hospital yet again, Sean died of cardiac arrest at the age of 29, that was caused by an infection. Dr. Now confirmed that Sean’s drastic weight gains and losses were too much for his body to cope with, and caused his heart to give out. Sean is one of just nine “600-lb Life” patients who have died to date, and serves as a cautionary tale; many viewers found his follow-up episode traumatizing, as they’d begun rooting for the patient, hoping that he could overcome his trauma and break the cycle. Clearly, his lack of self-control, willpower just wasn’t there.

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