Daily Archives: January 19, 2016

My 600 Pound Life – Television and medicine at its worst

One glimpse at My 600 Pound Life on the TLC Network, is enough to get many people hooked to watch the rest of the series. While the show is meant to be inspirational, it ends up demonstrating both American Television and American Medicine at their worst.

The series profiles people who tip the scales at 600 pounds AND UP! Many of the are so large that they can no longer even move out of bed.

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In many of the shows the person is taken to a hospital and treated by the surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan. He treats the people physically. He performs gastric bypass surgery, and sometimes even slices off whole slabs of fat.

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That is the problem. The main approach of the treatment is to try  to address the physical condition. As with many treatments in  American health care system , the underlying physiological cause is never even mentioned.

In one recent show there was a woman who was 760 pounds. She had not moved out of bed in over a year. Doctor Nowzaradan did gastric bypass, pumped her full of fluids and even had a team of very muscular men try to lift her to stand on her feet for 1 second.

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We were supposed to be inspired  when after four months she got down to 500 pounds and stood for 1 second with the help of some weight lifters.

However, it would be a mistake to be inspired by this type of so called “success”. Statistics show that most people of this size quickly gain back all the weight they have lost.  The reason, of course, is that the no one has addressed the underlying mental health crisis of these people.

The people and all  the members of their family need psychological help much more than surgery. If someone is too large to even get out of bed for years, that means that  someone else is bringing that person food, and carrying away the feces and cleaning the urine.  Basically there is a person committing suicide by eating him or herself to death and there are people around that person helping to enable that slow and  horrible death.

The show is popular for the same reason that freak shows once were. It gives the public something awful to look at and makes ordinary dull lives seem great by comparison.

But these are not freaks. These are people in deep physiological pain, who are getting the wrong kind of help. They and their loved ones need months, if not years, of treatment from psychiatrists and psychologists. It needs to be done privately and with dignity.  Don’t parade them around for the Television audience to stare at.

Show some respect TLC.