• "My 600-lb Life" chronicles a year in the life of a morbidly obese individual, as they struggle to lose weight with the help of Dr. Now.
• Dr. Now, birth name Younan Nowzaradan, is the Iranian-American surgeon in charge of getting patients into shape via a combination of diet, exercise, and sometimes gastric bypass or gastrectomy surgery.
• Obesity is a medical condition which has been classified as a disease, and is caused by a poor diet and lack of physical activity, as well as mental disorders, medications, endocrine disorders, and genetic susceptibility.
• "The Biggest Loser" is a weight loss show which aired on NBC from 2004 to 2016, and USA Network from 2020, in which contestants compete for a 30-week competition to see who can lose the most weight, with help from trainers and medical personnel.
• Other popular weight loss shows include “From Fit to Fat to Fit” and “Supersize vs. Superskinny”. "My 600-lb Life" remains one of the most popular shows in the genre.
About “My 600-lb Life”
TLC isn’t named The Learning Channel for nothing, as pretty much all of its shows educate viewers about people with unorthodox lifestyles. From hoarders to polygamy to teen pregnancy, no topic is off-limits, and there’s a reason “My 600-lb Life” remains one of the network’s most popular offerings to date, since its 2012 premiere.
Every episode of “My 600-lb Life” chronicles a year in the life of a morbidly obese individual, as they struggle to lose weight with the help of Dr. Now, a respected surgeon and specialist in the field. In most cases, participants of the series find that their weight loss journey is as mentally grueling as it is physically, as they are often pushed to their limit to prove that they are committed to making lasting lifestyle changes.
Michael's weight has dictated his entire life, but he's ready to make a change. A new episode of #My600lbLife starts next!
At the beginning of their episodes, participants weigh 500 to 600 pounds with the exception of some outliers who weigh much more. “Where Are They Now?” follow-up episodes begin filming 12 months after original episodes air; although there have been plenty of happy endings for the formerly obese participants, others have suffered health complications or, in the worst-case scenario, died after going back to their old ways.
Dr. Now, birth name Younan Nowzaradan, is the Iranian-American surgeon in charge of getting patients into shape via a combination of diet, exercise, and sometimes gastric bypass or gastrectomy surgery. Some viewers may think that surgery is the easy way out for participants, but nothing could be further from the truth, as these procedures come with strict before and aftercare regimes. Dr. Now also believes in counselling and therapy sessions, so that his patients can figure out the root of their food addiction.
At first, “My 600-lb Life” was a five-part miniseries that featured a handful of patients, but by popular demand, more episodes and follow-ups were filmed. Season one was filmed from 2004 to 2011, but TLC changed the format to provide viewers with regular and varied content. During the show’s eighth season, some patients were filmed for just half a year, whereas in season five the episodes doubled in length to two hours. Viewers can enjoy additional facts and unseen footage in the “Extended” and “Supersized” recap episodes.
Bariatric surgery is a costly procedure which isn’t covered by American health insurance. However, Dr. Now doesn’t charge participants to appear on the show – in fact, they are paid $1,500 by TLC, and offered $2,500 to cover expenses in case they need to relocate to Texas, where Dr. Now works. The surgeon has made it clear that he’s more concerned about helping his patients than earning money off them, stating in an interview: “We don’t need to worry about making a living out of every patient we see.”
Lashanta’s episode was included in season 7 of “My 600-lb Life”, and started off rather depressingly. When filming commenced, she had been bedridden for two years, and relied on her four children to feed and clean her. Her boyfriend, JT, was also present – but unlike her brood, he didn’t seem particularly thrilled about the ambitious weight loss journey on which Lashanta was embarking. Despite seeing his girlfriend suffer from numerous health complications, JT never encouraged her to shed the pounds, and by the end of the episode, JT and Lashanta had broken up because he disapproved of her slimmer physique – and, more importantly, of the newfound freedom Lashanta was enjoying, now that she could move by herself and didn’t need to depend on anyone.
Many viewers of Lashanta’s episode were rooting for the bubbly single mother, and wanted to see her succeed after a difficult childhood and harrowing life circumstances. These days, Lashanta advertises herself on social media as a “jingle queen and ghostwriter” who makes and sells custom songs which she then posts on Instagram and TikTok at the request of fans.
Although Lashanta doesn’t work with any online brands that we know of, she is also looking to branch out into that field, and charges fans $35 to post a promotional photo of them on her Instagram. Meanwhile, her custom songs sell for $75 and $100, and for the low price of $55, fans can also have Lashanta sing happy birthday to them in a video, and post it on her profile.
Viewers of “My 600-lb Life” are happy to see Lashanta thrive, as her weight loss journey has been anything but easy. When meeting Dr. Now for the first time, the reality TV participant learned that she would be unable to undergo weight loss surgery unless she proved that she was serious about implementing significant changes in her lifestyle. Despite the occasional setback, Lashanta shed 133 pounds (60 kilos) in less than a year, so as to qualify for gastric bypass surgery.
Although Lashanta was left disheartened after JT left her, she stuck to her guns and continued to eat healthily and work out. As her close friend Missy said, “Maybe you needed him to leave so you can concentrate and be focused on what you’re focused on.” The decisive factor in JT and Lashanta’s split was when the latter chose to move to Texas to work more closely with Dr. Now. Seeing how seriously Lashanta was taking her permanent weight loss plan, JT felt threatened and tried to guilt-trip and intimidate his girlfriend so as to keep her close, but to no avail. Thankfully, Lashanta never looked back, and is now doing better than ever.
The author and TV personality Dr. Now was born in Iran in October 1944 and is a specialist in vascular and bariatric surgery. “My 600-lb Life” has been his passion project since the early 2000s, and is the doctor’s best-known work, but he has also published books on weight loss, including “Last Chance to Live” and “The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do”. Previously, he also toured Texan theme parks with the aim of promoting healthy lifestyles to a younger audience.
Dr. Now, who graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tehran at 26 years old, is of Assyrian heritage. Upon graduating, he relocated to the US, where he took part in Saint Louis University’s Medical Orientation Program, and did a Rotating Surgical Internship in Michigan’s St. John Hospital.
Dr. Now’s other TV appearances include cameos in “Half Ton Dad”, “Half Ton Mum”, and “Half Ton Teen” – three episodes of the “Body Shock” series. He’s currently affiliated with Houston Obesity Surgery and practices at hospitals in the area. Amazingly, Dr. Now has also found the time to publish papers on obesity and laparoscopy, which have been cited hundreds of times by his peers.
Despite “My 600-lb Life” having thousands of long-time fans, not much is known about Dr. Now’s personal life. He married Delores McRedmond in 1975, but divorced almost 30 years later for unknown reasons. Of the couple’s three children, one is a producer and director of “My 600-lb Life”, whereas the other two have pursued different careers, and have no social media presence.
In April 2022, various news outlets reported that Dr. Now had been fired from “My 600-lb Life” after being hit with numerous lawsuits from disgruntled patients. The insurance company paying for Dr. Now’s services also allegedly cut ties with the surgeon, leaving the show – and its latest patients – in an awkward situation. It’s been said that the participants were given two options: move states and be operated on by another physician, or be operated on by the doctor who was working out of Dr. Now’s practice at the time.
However, months later, it was revealed by Dr. Now’s son Jonathan – who just happens to be the founder and president of the company behind “My 600-lb Life” – that the surgeon hadn’t been fired from the show. After a lengthy wait, fans of the reality series got to enjoy the season 11 premiere in February 2023; it’s safe to say that Dr. Now isn’t going anywhere.
Obesity is a medical condition which has been classified as a disease by the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, and other medical societies. Individuals with obesity have excess body fat, which often has a negative impact on their health and can, in extreme cases, result in death.
Individuals are classified as obese when their body mass index (BMI) is over 30, whereas those with a BMI between 25 and 30 are classified as overweight, it’s important to note that some East Asian countries calculate obesity using lower values. Some of the many conditions and diseases linked to obesity include obstructive sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.
There are also socioeconomic, environmental, and individual causes to obesity such as mental disorders, medications, endocrine disorders, and genetic susceptibility. With that said, a poor diet and lack of physical activity are the most common factors. Obese individuals find it particularly challenging to maintain weight loss in the long term, as there is no one-size-fits-all method for controlling the condition.
The first steps to treat obesity recommended by health professionals are exercise and a clean diet. Medications can also be used to decrease fat absorption or reduce appetite. If a combination of medication, diet and exercise doesn’t work, weight loss surgeries such as gastric balloons can help reduce the length of the intestines and stomach volume, thus making individuals feel full earlier.
Although obesity is stigmatized in most parts of the world, in the past it was viewed favorably, and considered a symbol of fertility and wealth. As of 2015, there were 600 million obese adults and 100 million obese children around the world, and the condition remains high on the list of preventable causes of death.
Obesity increases the risk of many mental and physical conditions. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders which includes high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus type 2. Studies have also shown that obese individuals are more likely to develop long COVID, whereas the CDC found obesity to be a strong risk factor for severe COVID-19 illness.
The condition comes with two types of health consequences: those caused by an increased number of fat cells, and those caused by the effects of increased fat mass. Increased fat can also lead to insulin resistance, while creating a prothrombotic state and a proinflammatory state in the individual’s body.
Perhaps due to rising obesity rates, an influx of weight loss shows flooded our screens in the early 2010s. With that said, reality shows such as “The Biggest Loser” had already been popular since the mid-2000s; created by Ben Silverman, Man Koops, and Dave Broom, it was innovative at the time due to its competition format. From its 2004 premiere until 2016, the show aired on NBC before being picked up by USA Network four years later.
— The Biggest Loser (@BiggestLoserITV) March 13, 2012
In each season of the show, obese and overweight contestants participate in a 30-week competition to see who can lose the most, with help from trainers, who with medical personnel on the show, are responsible for creating nutrition and workout plans for the contestants, who are grouped into teams of three. Every episode features challenges and temptations; contestants can be given special privileges for winning challenges, such as immunity from being voted off the show.
At the end of each week, the teams are all weighed to see how much they’ve lost. The team that has lost the least percentage of weight during the week loses a member via a voting system; obviously, the voting system is bypassed if there is only one member left on the team. After a few weeks, the teams are dissolved and it becomes a one-on-one competition amongst the remaining contestants.
Other popular weight loss shows include “From Fit to Fat to Fit”, in which personal trainers team up with obese individuals and gain weight to then lose it together, and “Supersize vs. Superskinny”, in which underweight and obese individuals swap diets for a week. “My 600-lb Life” remains one of the most popular shows in the genre, and ranks at the 98.6th percentile for reality shows.