‘My 600-Lb Life’: These Tragic Deaths Prove the Dangers of Extreme Obesity

The TLC show My 600-Lb Life documents the journeys of people trying to lose weight. But it’s not like the show participants want to lose ten or twenty pounds – they’re often in a battle for their very lives, battling demons that led to extreme obesity and all the health problems associated with it. Often their lifestyles could even lead to death if left untreated.

It’s estimated that 160 million Americans are either obese or overweight. But the show My 600-Lb Life explores some of the most perilous cases, including people who have been turned away for weight loss surgery by other doctors. Dr. Nowzaradan, the resident bariatric surgeon on the show, won’t turn away anyone who comes to him for help. But he does force his patients to make lifestyle changes before undergoing surgery. And even then, the surgery poses risks.

Lisa Fleming died after being ill

The most recent death of a show participant happened in August 2018. Lisa Fleming weighed 704 pounds when she decided things needed to change. Completely bedridden, Fleming had her “wake-up call” when maggots were discovered in the folds of her skin. Getting her out of the house required seven paramedics and reinforcements on her front porch.

Consulting with Dr. Now made a huge difference. Fleming was able to lose 200 pounds after undergoing weight loss surgery. But she got sick and her body simply couldn’t recover. Lisa Fleming passed away at 50. Her daughter Lisa wrote on Facebook, “I am truly at a loss for words right now. God knows I wanted you to hold on until I got here but He knew what was best for me. I didn’t need to see you like that! This morning I sat and held your hand for four hours knowing nothing I could’ve done would bring you back to me.”

James Bonner committed suicide

Some scars from morbid obesity are more than just medical. That became abundantly clear in August 2018 when show participant James “L.B.” Bonner committed suicide after his appearance on My 600-Lb. Life. He was only 30 years old.

Bonner had lost his leg in a car accident in 2013, which eventually led to extreme weight gain. He weighed 650 pounds when he appeared on the show. But then he made a commitment to losing weight, dropping 400 pounds and getting his life in order. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to conquer his demons. He had previously opened up about his struggle with depression, which eventually led him to take his own life.

Robert Buchel passed away during filming

Thankfully, there haven’t been many deaths on My 600-Lb Life, even though many show participants are at risk. But Robert Buchel did pass away during filming. The Forked River, NJ man came onto the show weighing 840 pounds and managed to lose 340 pounds with Dr. Nowzaradan’s help. But he also had a painkiller addiction that was difficult to ignore. Robert suffered a fatal heart attack during filming. The episode of My 600-Lb Life featuring Robert Buchel aired in February 2018, about four months after he passed away.

His fiancé Kathryn Lemanski said: “I lost my best friend and the person I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. He told me, ‘I don’t think I’ll make it through the night. I love you and I always will.”

Henry Foots lost his life during Season 1

In the first season of the show, Henry Foots was trying to lose weight for a high school reunion (and for his health, of course). He had died once already during a procedure to remove excess skin, but the doctors managed to revive him. As he told TLC of the incident, “There was the light to take me to heaven. I wasn’t ready for it because there’s so much here on earth I haven’t [done] yet.”

Sadly, Foots didn’t live much longer than that. Even though he managed to lose 275 pounds, or about half his body weight, he passed away about 18 months after his episode of My 600-Lb Life aired.