If you’ve ever watched “My 600-lb Life,” you’ve probably wondered, at one time or another, one basic thing: How did these people get here?
“Well, it is a complex condition,” Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, the show’s weight-loss expert, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It is a genetic disposition that increases with every generation. Right now, 67 percent of the population in the United States are either overweight or obese. But it is estimated by 2030, this number will be 90 percent. So we are in a situation where obesity has become an epidemic, and it’s a complex situation because of the availability of food, genetic disposition (and) lifestyle. All those factors are increasing the rate of obesity.”
Sadly, roughly 26 percent of Americans are morbidly obese, which means they have a BMI greater than 50. Nowzaradan called this figure “alarming.”
“There’s a lot of things that contribute to that, said Nowzaradan, the author of “Last Chance to Live.” “Depression is a very big factor for the people and being economically deprived and being on welfare (are some) of the things (working against these people).”
Brian Jones took issue with that statement. The former NFL linebacker grew up on welfare. He also loves food. But even he knew when to put the fork down.
“You’re an exception,” Nowzaradan said. “You didn’t want to become obese. Some people let go and this becomes a situation where they really can’t get out of it. They need somebody to help them to get out of it.”
Nowzaradan is that somebody. The Houston-based doctor has performed numerous weight-loss surgeries, but only after clients lose a certain amount of weight on their own. As seen on the show, Nowzaradan gives patients weight-loss goals. Sometimes patients reach the goal; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, patients actually gain weight.
The denial, Nowzaradan said, is overwhelming.
“They think something else is causing this obesity,” he said. “They are typically in denial over eating, and the perception they have about the amount of food is so way off that they think this is normal eating. This is a challenge for them to make those changes. As you noticed, a lot of times they can’t. The only solution for them becomes surgery.”
And even that isn’t fool-proof.
“Our success rate after five years is not very high in these people,” Nowzaradan said. “Their metabolic situation will come back. Their eating disorder will come back. Their psychological makeup is also such that they are eating so much and punishing themselves. Most of them, they fail to be what they want to be, and obesity is an excuse for them to not be a rocket scientist or a football player or be whatever they expected (themselves) to be. The only thing holding them up was obesity. If you take it back from them, they have no excuse for failure. They go back to that.”