TLC’s My 600 Pound Life : Why Do We Watch It?


Fascinated with obese people? It’s not polite to stare at them on the street, but you can watch them on TLC―The Learning Channel. Is it unethical to watch these shows?

I did watch, TLC’s My 600 Pound Life. It followed several 600 pound people for 7 years. Each person endured Gastric Bypass surgery. They were so obese that their lives were in danger if they didn’t do something to lose weight.

There is also the operating room piece to this series. You get to watch the doctor perform surgery, and get to see their huge stomachs being reduced. It is both disgusting and fascinating.

In most cases, the people were no longer mobile and couldn’t get their own food. So how did  they get it? From the people who were  their caretakers or loved ones, their enablers.

In every case their enablers were also grossly overweight, but didn’t have a clue as to why their loved ones got up to 600 pounds. Talk about not taking responsibility, or seeing yourself as having a problem.

I wanted to shout out to the screen, “It’s partly your fault!”

In many cases, it was parents who got them started with their bad eating habits in the first place. While their loved one was recuperating, they were still chowing down on fast food in front of them.

In one case, a mother― grossly overweight―talked about how her daughter went and hid food in her bedroom, and there was nothing she could do about it. You can tell, by her reactions, that she is not a kind person. Although she’s obese herself, she’s ready to tease her own daughter for her weight problem.

I’m not putting all the blame on the enablers. When you get to a certain age, you have to take responsibility.

I disagree with some people who think these people copped out by getting Gastric Bypass surgery. That’s a gutsy thing to do. These people were putting themselves in mortal danger, and the recovery was painful and difficult.

Why do I watch this show? Maybe to motivate myself so I won’t get up to 600 pounds. Maybe to remind myself that food is only for nourishment, not for companionship or recreation. It shouldn’t be for emotional self- soothing.

In our society it’s become all those things to many people.

I’m wondering how many people only eat for nourishment.

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity is a big problem in the USA.

Despite all the problems these people encountered, some of them also beat the odds. There is a happy ending to some of the stories. It gives hope that life can drastically change if people do the work.

Despite her teasing mother, the young girl lost a lot of weight, went back to college, and is leading a normal life. One of the men was determined to lose weight at the very beginning and he did. He even married his girlfriend in the end.

Not everyone had a good outcome. Some went back to their old eating habits.

Do you think there’s something basically sick about watching these shows?  Is it fair to watch someone else’s private misery?

Is it similar to going to a carnival sideshow as suggested by some reviews I’ve read?

Does it have any value at all? They wouldn’t produce these shows if people didn’t watch them.

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “TLC’s My 600 Pound Life : Why Do We Watch It?

  1. I’ve never been overweight but I have suffered from disordered eating, and I am always very happy to see someone deal with the problem of disordered eating head on, like these people do, allowing their journey to be filmed. Our society demonizes fat, which is patently ridiculous, since 65% of us are overweight, and 25% are obese! As for weight loss surgery being a cop-out – even Dr. Oz says “We’re probably only doing 1% of the gastric bypass surgeries that we should.” He points out that a person with a solid tumor we wouldn’t hesitate to operate, but obesity, which can kill just as quickly, we start moralizing about surgical intervention. He makes a good point.

  2. No it is a real show about real people and what happened to them. It’s sad and informative at the same time. I think most of the people on these shows where big most of their life. so the Gastric Bypass was not a cop out it was the only thing left for them.

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