My 600-lb Life’s most controversial stars09/10/2019
When viewers of My 600-lb Life on TLC tune into an episode, the hope is that they’ll be let into the very personal world of someone weighing 600 or more pounds, who will start to turn their life around with the help of Dr. Now. Along the way it’s normal for things to get emotional, as the stars are obviously not in a healthy place at the outset of the show. So a little bit of drama is expected as is maybe even a little contentiousness here and there, as the show’s stars face the difficult obstacles standing in the way of their weight loss.
But once in a while, some of the patients on My 600-lb Life throw a curve ball, causing quite a bit more disruption and difficulty than their more compliant, less cantankerous counterparts. Whether it’s picking fights with Dr. Now, sneaking food and lying about it, or refusing to change at the expense of their entire family, these sometimes belligerent individuals can cause a mountain of problems. So who among the stars of My 600-lb Life can call themselves the most controversial? Here’s the dirt on the biggest offenders.
My 600-lb Life star Penny Saeger wanted an easy out
Penny Saeger appeared on My 600-lb Life in the earlier part of Season 2, rendering her one of the reality show’s OGs. But unlike her fellow co-stars that season, such as Zsalynn Whitworth, Christina Phillips, and Paula Jones, Saeger didn’t comply with Dr. Now’s diet and exercise plan. Although she did drop 40 pounds while hospitalized at the beginning of her episode, which qualified her for weight loss surgery, that was the only weight loss documented for Saeger. In fact, by the end of her episode, she managed to gain weight after surgery, which is pretty mind-blowing.
Things weren’t much better in her follow-up episode, in which Saeger claimed she was doing much better and seeing improvements in her health. Of course, Dr. Now didn’t agree with that assessment, and matter-of-factly explained that Saeger is addicted to food and is delusional about any imagined progress.
As for where Saeger is now, that’s anyone’s guess. Starcasm reported that she keeps a low social media profile, and that any photos they procured don’t show much difference. We hope she finds a way to get healthy in the future.
My 600-lb Life's Schenee Murry didn't want to give up food
When viewers first met Schenee Murry on My 600-lb Life, she was deeply sad about suffering through two miscarriages, which is totally understandable. That experience can be extremely traumatic to not just the person who endures one, but her partner as well, according to the American Psychological Association. Given that she was also sexually abused by a cousin when she was very young, it’s no wonder that she turned to food for comfort.
But there was hope, as Murry went to Dr. Now to help her get both her life and her weight back under control. But alas, she was unwilling and unable to stop compulsively overeating. Despite her claims of gaining water weight, something Dr. Now pointed out was clearly not the case, Murry was never approved for weight loss surgery. She continued to eat foods that were not on Dr. Now’s program, including a famously illicit pizza, and never dealt with her underlying emotional issues.
Despite leaving Dr. Now’s care, Murry set up a GoFundMe for her weight loss surgery. She later filmed herself doing an eating challenge from her hospital bed. Oof.
Angela Johns felt like she was being punished on My 600-lb Life
Season 7 of My 600-lb Life brought longtime viewers of the show one of the most controversial stars in its history: Angela Johns. Like others on the show, Johns has a tragic backstory involving sexual abuse, rape, drug addiction, and even prison time. As a result of her multiple traumas, Johns turned to food for comfort, eventually weighing in at 643 pounds by the time she sought Dr. Now’s help.
But not only was Johns downright combative with Dr. Now during her episode, she claimed he was “punishing” her and said his program was “bulls**t.” She also tested positive for opiate use and heavy cigarette smoking, but lied to Dr. Now about it. On top of that, she was manipulative to her family members. After losing only 48 pounds and continuing to abuse drugs, Dr. Now gave her an ultimatum: go to rehab or end of her weight loss journey with him. Still delusional, Johns didn’t go to rehab, and she claimed Dr. Now was lying about everything.
Johns has set up a GoFundMe to help with her expenses, despite her non-compliance on the show.
My 600-lb Life's James King was taking his family down with him
Some patients on My 600-lb Life are so far gone that they are almost completely immobile, unable to care for themselves and confined to their bed because of their weight. That was the case for James King, who weighed in at 791 pounds at the beginning of his episode, as he used food to cope with his childhood trauma.
But it’s hard to have too much sympathy for King, as throughout the episode it’s shown that he behaved selfishly. For one, he had his daughter drop out of school so she could take care of him. And his father, despite the fact that he suffered a stroke, took out a second mortgage to finance his son’s journey to Houston — but King refused to change. He was continually enabled by his girlfriend, Lisa, who couldn’t stop bringing him food. It was so bad that Dr. Now called Adult Protective Services on her when he found out she brought food to him in the hospital in his follow-up episode, even though King had multiple organs failing him.
King had a GoFundMe page set up, but it’s no longer active.
My 600-lb Life star Lee Sutton was abusive to his partner
Occasionally family members or romantic partners who weigh 600 pounds or more appear together on the My 600-lb Life, which was the case for Lee Sutton and Rena Kiser. The couple, who met and fell in love at a bariatric rehabilitation facility, were eating themselves into dangerous situations when their episode began.
Although they were both able to eventually lose weight and get weight loss surgery, it become evident fairly early on that Sutton had anger management issues. That resulted in him being abusive to his partner both verbally and physically. It got so bad that Dr. Now sent him to see a therapist so he could control himself better. But Sutton was still being cruel to Kiser in their follow-up episode, no matter how hard Kiser tried to be kind and to deescalate his behavior when his temper flared up.
The story of Sutton’s awful behavior continued after their episodes concluded, according to an article in Starcasm. Sutton reportedly cheated on Kiser with a married woman, and Kiser ended the relationship, according to now-deleted social media posts. But it appears as though she took him back in the end.
Mercedes Cephas always had an excuse on My 600-lb Life
Of all of the stars on My 600-lb Life, Mercedes Cephas’ story is among the most heartbreaking. When she was only 11 years old, her father began sexually abusing her, which caused her to have feelings of shame, guilt, and sadness. By the time she was 15 years old, she was up to 300 pounds, and using food to help her deal with the trauma of her assaults. Obviously, this had a huge impact on her life.
But when confronted about her eating habits by Dr. Now, Cephas insisted that she wasn’t overeating — she said she just wasn’t eating the right foods, even at 773 pounds. And when she finally did move to Houston months later, she had only dropped just under 50 pounds. Subsequently, she gained weight, showing she clearly was not following Dr. Now’s program. And by the end of her episode, after she had only lost around 80 pounds altogether, Dr. Now was adamant that she be admitted into the hospital, giving her three days to decide.
Angela Gutierrez wasn't willing to try hard enough on My 600-lb Life
When viewers first met Angela Gutierrez on her episode of My 600-lb Life, it was readily apparent that she had been through a lot. Having lost custody of her children due to child endangerment and attempting to take her own life, Gutierrez lost herself down the rabbit hole of compulsive overeating. By the time she made the journey to Dr. Now with her ex-boyfriend, she weighed in at 608 pounds. That’s in spite of the fact she’d had weight loss surgery before — a rarity on the show.
But when Dr. Now charged her to lose weight by following his diet plan, Gutierrez faltered, unable to comply with his demands. She started missing appointments, eventually dropped out of the program altogether, and returned to her home in Ohio. But she still had one more check-in with Dr. Now, which she did via video chat. In it, she told him that she had lost 120 pounds, to which he responded that she’s “delusional.” That’s never a good sign.
Gutierrez updates her Facebook page regularly, but it’s unclear if she’s lost any weight since her episode.
Pauline Potter made My 600-lb Life fans furious
Pauline Potter was already infamous before she appeared on My 600-lb Life. That’s because she had herself certified as the World’s Heaviest Woman in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records, had appeared on Dr. Phil, and had made tabloid headlines when she said she lost weight “by having sex up to seven times a day with her ex-husband,” according to Starcasm.
By the time Potter got to Dr. Now’s office, she weighed 678 pounds, and her health was beginning to really suffer because of it. But Potter was resistant, even telling Dr. Now that he was overreacting when he wanted her hospitalized to get her weight under control. Potter continued to be obstinate even after she had weight loss surgery, repeatedly butting heads with Dr. Now, much to the ire of viewers.
Fortunately Potter did eventually get herself together, and, in her follow-up episodes, managed to lose 300 pounds, with skin surgery being on the horizon. She also regularly updates her Facebook page, where she’s looking slimmer and slimmer all the time. So while Potter might have been a handful to begin with, it looks like she’s turned it all around.
My 600-lb Life star Cynthia Wells wanted to do things on her own
When the cameras started rolling for Cynthia Wells’ episode of My 600-lb Life, her loneliness was palpable. But as a single mom of five children, she also had a ton of responsibility, something that was becoming more difficult because of her weight. At 610 pounds, Wells was becoming less motivated to leave the house and more exhausted when she had to move.
When it came to following Dr. Now’s program, however, Wells wasn’t willing to be compliant for very long. She managed to earn herself the reputation of being one of the more bull-headed stars of My 600-lb Life during her tenure on the show, at one point calling Dr. Now’s program “bulls**t,” and returning home to Oklahoma City. By the end of her episode, Wells’ weight loss had stalled, and she was deep in denial about her emotional eating habits.
Fortunately, things were better in her follow-up episode, as Wells seemed much happier. She continued to lose weight, and was down to 361 pounds — a big improvement. And while she still struggles with her weight, according to her Facebook page, she’s definitely seen some progress.
My 600-lb Life star Lisa Fleming had maggots living in her skin
Lisa Fleming started gaining weight when she was a child, thanks in part to a very punishing mother. But it was after she witnessed her brother’s murder that her eating truly spiraled out of control, with no end in sight. By the time she signed up for My 600-lb Life, she weighed over 700 pounds, and was unable to take care of herself as she was confined to her bed.
As tragic as her backstory is, that’s not what made Fleming so controversial. Rather, it was the discovery that she had maggots living in the folds of her skin that made her notorious, something that should have been a wake-up call. Instead, after losing weight under medical supervision, Fleming returned home and went back to her old habits. Eventually Dr. Now dismissed her from his program, as she refused to comply with his orders.
Tragically, Fleming passed away at the age of 50 on Aug. 23, 2018, according to Page Six. She is remembered lovingly by her family.
LaShanta White hid fried chicken while on My 600-lb Life
Everything changed for LaShanta White when she was 13 years old, as she had gotten pregnant and was going to be a mother despite her young age. That on top of the trauma of her parents’ divorce and abusive ex-boyfriends caused her to seek solace in food, which is what caused her to weigh in at almost 700 pounds at the beginning of her episode of My 600-lb Life.
While that is not an atypical story for the people who star on My 600-lb Life, White’s episode left viewers reeling for a variety of reasons. For one, her mother is extremely no-nonsense, frequently criticizing her daughter’s weight in blunt terms. Additionally, White had a combative attitude toward Dr. Now, and, at one point, she hid fried chicken to avoid being caught eating it. That, on top of her manipulative ways, earned her recognition as one of the most controversial stars of My 600-lb Life.
But not all was lost at the end of White’s episode, as Dr. Now approved her conditionally for weight loss surgery, providing she stand up on her own two feet.
Steven Assanti might be the most controversial My 600-lb Life star
Anyone who’s seen the My 600-lb Life double episode and follow-up episodes featuring Steven Assanti and his brother, Justin, can attest that he’s quite possibly the most controversial star the show has ever seen. Namely, Assanti came off as manipulative because of the way that he treated both his family and the medical staff that was trying to help him.
For one, Assanti constantly manipulated his father into getting whatever he wanted, such as unhealthy foods, and bullied his brother repeatedly. He even went so far as to steal Justin’s painkillers after he had weight loss surgery to fuel his own addiction. Additionally, he threw a jar of urine on the floor of the hospital, leaving it for a nurse to clean up. Assanti even caused Dr. Now to lose it, as he threatened to drop him off at a homeless shelter if he didn’t stop his manipulative and erratic behavior.
Assanti seems to have calmed down since then, likely due to the fact that he got married, according to Starcasm. But it’s hard to forget just how horrible he once was.
Is there hope for these My 600-lb Life stars?
Despite the fact that some of the stars of My 600-lb Life don’t follow Dr. Now’s orders and end up leaving the program, not all is lost. Rather, Dr. Now is always willing to take on a patient if they can show they’re ready and willing to change their eating and exercise habits — and fight for their lives.
Additionally, even the most controversial stars on the show can change, as is evidenced by Steven Assanti’s retreat from the public eye. And if he can change, then anyone else on the show can as well. So there’s hope for patients like Angela Johns and Mercedes Cephas, even though they may not have completely stopped using food to cope with life’s stresses. But as regular viewers of My 600-lb Life will tell you, it will likely take the patient going to therapy to get to their underlying emotional issues before progress is made.
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