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Backlash After Penny’s Story On ‘My 600-lb Life’

TLC's My 600 Lb. Life

Penny on her way to Houston for surgery on My 600 Lb. Life

Penny’s story on last night’s show, “My 600-lb Life” provoked strong reactions.

The new TLC reality series chronicles the tale of one person an episode and takes viewers through a year in the life of someone struggling on a daily basis, at a size that keeps some of them off their feet. Penny, 46  is one of those who has been unable to walk for four years.

After season finale: Pick your Best-Worst story

What brought out the anger in viewers who posted on social media sites was Penny’s claim that she wanted to rejoin life coupled with her refusal to follow medical advice to get there. Her husband Edgar came under fire as well for seeming clueless about what part he played in his wife’s life threatening condition.

She began the show at 530 lbs (not her highest weight) and was not significantly less at the end of the one-hour program.

Penny could not even stand up without enormous help and only for a brief period, despite gastric bypass surgery, a more balanced diet and months of physical therapy.

Her feet and legs had yet to become accustomed to bearing her weight to enable her to stand without two people holding her steady as she held on to something in front of her. Walking was out of the question.

As Penny’s doctor, Younan Nowzaradan learned, she was not ready to work at getting stronger or to deny herself the amount of food and the type of food she demanded.

The enormity of the task got the best of her. We watched as she traveled from her home to Houston for treatment and surgery.What it took to get Penny out of her home and into a van for the trip was shocking. A link to a video clip about that struggle is posted below.

Because her husband couldn’t leave her alone in the vehicle it would mean that the trip could not include any way for him to catch sleep at a hotel/motel on the way.

She lost 40 lbs. in one month of hospitalization being fed a 1,200 calorie per day diet. She underwent the surgery and had high hopes that all would be different because of the severe reduction in the size of her stomach.

Penny’s inability to stick to it, even in the hospital was maddening to viewers as well as her own doctor. She inexplicably refused to try to walk or some days even sit up, then there was the bad food that creeped back into her diet. She was depressed and let it get the best of her.

She and Edgar had years of practice of him wanting to make her happy and supplying her with food that helped keep her a prisoner in her own body. Dr. Nowzaradan called Edgar an enabler. When Penny hadn’t lost another pound during a long hospitalization, the doctor released her, thinking that her own environment could be a help.

Edgar rented an apartment in Houston so she could remain close to the facility, but the eating began again. She gained weight, missed appointments and ended up back in the hospital where she refused to believe the scales were correct. She fell into despair.

The cycle continued until she was discharged for good, when a very patient and kind Dr. Nowzaradan called a spade a spade. Penny was not ready to do the work necessary to recover and reduce her body size, and Edgar was not up to the task of being an enforcer, rather than an enabler.

There was hope at the show’s conclusion after Edgar and Penny decided that they could manage to eat better and less, just not at the level recommended for her. Penny even set a goal to leave the house and sit in an auditorium to watch Liam graduate from kindergarten.

That never happened, but the couple believed it could at some point in the future.

What was a bit surprising was that Penny was never seen speaking with a psychiatrist/psychologist during the entire year chronicled on the show. Perhaps she was treated for her depression and mental health issues and TLC did not include that in the edited video footage. After all, it was a year’s overview condensed to a one-hour TV show.

What did you think of Penny’s story? There will be others as TLC airs “My 600 lb. Life” each Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET

Video of Penny’s trip to Houston and how that had to be accomplished is posted on TVRuckus

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Categories: My 600-lb. Life, Reality

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177 replies

  1. Penny’s husband needs to take his son and leave her and then get counselling. He needs to learn about proper nutrition so that he can keep himself and his son healthy. That dear little boy deserves so much better than the life he has now and if something is not done quickly, he will become morbidly obese through no fault of his own. Penny should be ashamed of herself and Edgar needs a huge wake-up call. All I can say is poor Liam! My heart breaks for him.

    • That episode had me so angry I wanted to shoot the T.V.

    • It would be interesting to know how this family survives as Edgar does not seem to work outside the home. Does the family receive social security? Medicare? Does the Maryland provide secondary insurance? Do they receive food stamps? The only way they could get to Houston would have been to rely on the kindness of family and friends as government funds would not have paid for the trip. It seems quite obvious that Penny has severe cognitive issues related to magical thinking. I know many people who think as she does. Something just does not compute in the frontal cortex, and the end result is a person unable to cope with modern life. If obesity were not killing her, something else would be. She is like the young man I knew who was upset he had been stabbed in the abdomen at a bar where he knew there was commonly trouble. Or the young female student beaten up in the girl’s room even though she had been given clear instructions not to go in it if the gang that had previously hassled her were in there. Her friend who was with her had not gone in because they saw the gang in there. Or….Or….etc. Whatever is illogical in their thinking may not be chemically or therapeutically “fixed.” They remind be of Phineas Gage. So it probably was not wrong to try to save her life; it just may be impossible. (And we may not be able to tell who is fixable at this point.) If Edgar would leave and take the child with him, maybe we would find out if she would choose life. Or she might just call 911. But then we have pretty much emptied our psychiatric hospitals. In the meantime, everyone seems happy enough. Her son has a father who loves him, an aunt to rely on, and a mother with whom he can visit. There are children who are much worse off than he.

  2. What a selfish and lazy woman … I can’t help but think that they could have helped someone else besides this lazy person … I feel sorry for the little boy … he will be without a mother soon and that’s no one’s fault but Penny’s .

    • I feel the same way and was disgusted by her complete lack of effort, her selfishness and how she treated her husband. I think it’s a good idea that they showed this complete failure at gastric bypass though. Shows that it’s not a magic cure requiring zero effort on the part of the patient. Maybe other Pennys out there will think twice about doing it.

    • A mother who doesn’t love her son enough to live,she loves food more than him. Then the jellyfish husband-Penny is like a spoiled child-temper tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants-grow a backbone for your child’s sake-if she won’t eat what is served-walk away-with her weight she could survive months on body fat-she reminds me of gubba the hut from star wars

    • Personally I think Penny enjoys the attention of being a fat slob. I say leave her in her bed and if she wants something from the kitchen than she can get up an get it. she blames everyone else for her obesity, but as you can see when her elbow bends , her mouth opens. Shes’s demanding , selfish, inscure with major psych issues.

      • I agree….she likes people waiting on her and all the attention being on the show gave her. The comment about how she is a better mom than one who works 10 hrs a day is laughable. She is not fit to care for a child, what if her son got hurt when her husband was gone then what?

        The mental issues far out weight the obesity. We will see soon enough how she has ate herself to death with Won tons and little meatloaves made in her bed…..

    • Penny is a “lazy PIG!” she needs institutionalized immediately!!

    • This episode absolutely DISGUSTED me.

      • She kept repeating she was a good mother and her son loves her ….What will happen when she is in that bed pooping and peeing when his friends/girlfriends come over in a few years …..I also believe that her husband should take the boy and put her in a nursing home …..What a selfish person

  3. I can not watch her show again. I caught her story twice and each time I got more ticked off than the time before.. First it really pissed me off her using her past as a reason why. Guess what? I can give you a story about a bad life with beatings and sexual molestation, being burnt with cigarettes and hit with brushes, belts, dishes, whatever happened to be close that they could hurt you with including irons and all by the hands of parents and their friends that they passed you off to do the same. it did not make me choose her lifestyle.so her using her life to try to make excuses just pisses me off. More importantly that she is choosing this shit over her son… you know what having my first child did? Made me immediately get therapy before he was born out of fear I would not know how to parent a child with what me and my siblings had to go through. I made that choice no one else so please spare me the pity party. She wasted everyone’s time and an opportunity for someone who really needed it get it done. She also gambled with her entire family’s money. She is a fat, lazy slob that should have her child taken away because of her and her husbands inability to care for another person properly.. All hail queen penny from where she sits upon her throne.. just a blob of a waste of life.

  4. Penny is is an immature, spoiled, brat who as gotten use to getting what she wants, when she wants! Shame on you Mom and Husband, you don’t love her because you are buying her a one way ticket to her grave with every fast food meal you get her! She really was not ready for this phase about losing weight! She wasted a month in the hospital on a 1000 calorie a day diet and she lost a big whopping 4lbs. Mom and Husband did it again, they ate her hospital food and they sneaked in fast food to her. I can’t believe she didn’t know that she actually gained weight and then blamed it on the scales not being right . Always someone else’s problem it’s not her! She wasted most of that year when someone who is ready and needs to have it could have while she laid up in that bed and wouldn’t even try to do what’s right ! Penny Shame On You!!

  5. I was very confused when the nurse said she was on a 1200 calorie diet and she commented I didn’t know I had to lose weight here, and the doctor has to get his poop in a group or I will order something, what did she think she was there for? I give the doctor a lot of credit, he tried everything, I just don’t understand who pays for all the trips back and forth to the hospital in a ambulance where they have to even block the road off!!!I would be so embarrassed looking like a beached whale and then making jokes to these paramedics that are working their asses off and she lays there laughing, and I think she can get up and walk a little but wouldn’t do it because it might mess with her disability, because when she had to transfer to the stretcher and she stood up by the door way and turn she sure had no trouble getting her fat ass around the corner. because it had to be done. I do believe Edgar and Liam should leave her and say “fend for yourself” “when you can, call us” I bet she move her ass real quick to that kitchen. sorry but she just angers me!!!!!

    • I am angry after watching this but I don’t really think I have a right to judge. My eating habits aren’t the best but I’m not overweight by any means. I know what it’s like to grow in a less than perfect reality. I’ve struggled with trying to keep weight on because of stress and anxiety but my children and my husband make it easier. I want to be there for them there’s no excuse to deprive you’re child of the parent they deserve. So what if you had it rough as a child use that as your motivation to make your child’s life better. I overcame without counseling and was the first person in my family to finish high school and graduate college. I don’t think I deserve an award, I’m just saying why wouldn’t you want better for your child stop being selfish. Her husband needs to put some fear in her leave for a few weeks. I bet she would shape up then. I need to stop judging and pray for her and her family because she definitely needs it.

  6. a lot of you say maybe she should of had mental health help first, but she would have found fault with them just like she did the nutritionist and physical therapist, she didn’t want to hear anything they had to say!!! I laughed when she yelled out to the nutritionist that Liam only like cupcakes and not candy or cookies, and he yelled “yes I do, I like cookies” right there you’re telling you’re son to lie, but they knew her lies way before that anyway, how can you have your husband clean your ass on television? and act like it’s all normal? ick

  7. So unbelievably selfish and lazy. Her kid deserves better. She chooses to waste her life. Constantly lie about her eating and is going to destroy a wonderful young childs life when he watches herself unnecessarily die. And that father needs a slap around the face. What a useless prick. When she dies he will have played an equal part in the role.
    No excuses for these two as parents. Absolutely disgusting.

  8. THE most selfish, lazy human being I have ever seen. She is disgusting on every level!

  9. I just watched the episode about Penny in it and I was absolutely disgusted with her laziness! I don’t think people should be able to get disability because they choose not to control their eating or get some form of exercise. I agree that she seems to enjoy having the paramedics and firefighters coming in to take her out on an extra wide stretcher and close off the street. She seems to like the attention. She and her husband are in serious denial and she will be dead soon if she doesn’t change her ways which according to the show she isn’t going to change her ways. She behaved like a spoiled brat especially when she told the nurse she didn’t know she had to lose weight when she came in to the hospital. She expected the surgery to be a magic solution..even if it was and she lost all of the weight I’m sure she would have put in back on.

  10. Sadly, Penny will not read these comments. If she should stumble across them, she will have a pity party of major proportions. She lies to herself, her doctors and seems to relish in the attention she gets. She states that “it’s hard not to be there” your choice Penny, good thing you can wash your own vagina now. What an accomplishment! How degrading that that is your only achievement. No sympathy for you

  11. I think some of these husbands LIKE their wives obese, and sabotage their successful weight loss on purpose. There is a certain population of “fat-lovers” out there who are sexually attracted to extremely large women, and they secretly fear their wives losing any weight & becoming skinnier will make them lose their sexual attraction for them. Perhaps there’s a tinge of “If she gets thin, other men will find her attractive & I might lose her,” too. I feel these men might have their own self-esteem issues, which could be why they chose obese women in the first place–because they would never leave them. (After all, who else would want them, right?) Also, these insecure men can remain the “most attractive one” in the couple, as long as they help maintain their wife’s obesity. At any rate, losing love/attraction for a woman because she goes from fat to thin is as awful as losing interest in a previously thin woman who gains weight . . . you either love a person or you don’t, size notwithstanding. Shame on these men who are not more loving & supportive of their spouses when they need them the most.

  12. What a waste!!!! I can not watch her episode ever again. The other people yes, but Penny NO!!! She just needs to die. Sorry if that is blunt but doesn’t deserve to have a husband and a child. She only cares about herself. The husband needs to tell her to get up and get her own food, He needs to get a job and stop living off her disability. I hope they never show her again and that Penny reads these comments.

    • I am at a loss of words after watching this episode. This woman lives in an alternate universe, one where she see herself as a victim. She is a master manipulator and needs to face her reality…she is her own worst enemy. How could she allow her neighbors and family to fundraise for her trip and ultimately do nothing to adhere to the program that would have enabled her to lose weight. It is a sad situation, her husband who is her sole caregiver and her son who will not grow up with a mother. Penny needs counseling and some tough love.

    • Your a NAZI,no one needs to die.You pig.

  13. Just like with drunks and drug addicts, they cannot be helped until they are ready to be helped. She has serious addiction and psychological problems, without addressing that first there is obviously no hope for her. As far as the husband, what can you say, very odd, he’ll just keep supplying the drug until she dies. Probably the only hope for the little boy is foster care, his environment is not conducive with nurturing a child. Maybe if he was taken away it might be the shock either of his parents needs to be brought to the realization and severity of their situation.

  14. She is a disgusting, selfish, pig. Gross.

  15. I cant get enough of this. She is a a lazy self absorbed mess that is a product of this country’s hand out philosophy. We all have a family member or two just like this

  16. who is paying for all of this treatment, the hospital the therapy the nutritionist all of these are costly, for what, she laughs in their faces. obviously she does not want to change. and health care costs will continue to rise, because of people like her

  17. LAAAAAAZY! Worlds most biggest disability mooch!

  18. Penny is a fat loser. The real people who have this condition are people who fight for life and are to be respected! All this fraud is doing is taking people’s money to go on TV and play a victim! I have no sympathy for her. She is not trying to get up, she has food sneaked at hospital and and eats like always at home! She said she can tell exactly how many calories go into everything she makes, but if that is so how come she’s in this shape then! She is the lowest of users! The people who really want help could have had this procedure! I hope they NEVER SHOW THIS EPISODE AGAIN! Nothing but a lair and a pretender! Excuses, excuses, excuses. Don’t bring your innocent son into this! You have failed as a mother and a wife!

  19. This woman, Penny is truly a looser with a capital L and not in a good way. I never saw such denial. Any Mothering that child gets, he has to come to her bedside for it. She is NO example of a Mother and has no business comparing herself to working Mothers who also play with their kids and even go to some of the school events. As for that husband. I would not bring her a single food item she asks for. A nutritionist should have been consulted and designed a weeks worth of diet at a time, and I mean every bite weighed for carb and calorie count. All friends and relatives should be warned to NEVER bring her so much as a jellybean. This woman who can’t even walk to the pantry or fridge should have lost a LOT of weight. She was basically slopped like a farm hog by her husband, the enabler. She should just be on meat, fish, veggies, fruit and some nuts. No breads or potatoes. She WOULD loose if I had the keys to the kitchen. Even if she walked later, there would be ZERO junk food in there. Desserts should just be a little fruit and no calories Jello.

  20. I cannot believe she had the nerve to say that she gets to spend more time with her child then women who work 10 hours a day. She has life really messed up!! While I go to work for 9 hours a day (while my child is at school for 7 of them) when I get to go home WE can play at the park, go for walks, bike rides and everything else. Not to mention the weekends when my child and I are both off from work and school and I’m not stuck in a bed because I choose food over my child. Your child will hate you later in life for missing out on his. He may not realize it yet because he is still young and cannot see what a selfish hog you are. To put down working parents while you lay in a bed while your husband (who I feel so sorry for) hands you your pee pan and then instead of dumping it on you (which I would have done) is a disgrace!!! You make me so sick! You have no motivation other than to stuff that fat pie hole of yours. Keep eating and watching your son from the window and my children and I will keep living!

  21. I feel that these surgeries are probably being paid by the taxpayer. Therefore, they should have to sign a contract that they will lose weight or will have to start making payments on the huge hospital bills. Maybe that would change their minds.

  22. Most likely her medical bills are in the $100,000 to $200,000 range and like the rest of her life she takes no responsibilty for it. She is disgusting mostly for her the world owes me thinking. No one owes HER anything she owes the taxpayers since we clothe and over feed her. Her child needs to be taken away. That is not a healthy enviroment for him. She needs to lose her SSI so her lazy husband will have to get a job. And most of all TLC needs to stop showing her on TV that just feeds her warped idea that she is a celebrity and she needs to be handed a bill/diet with hard and swift consequences for not losing weight or begin to pay the bill. People do not value what they get for free.

    • While I don’t know for certain, it is likely that the subjects of the show get their medical bills paid for their participation in the show. Everyone on these reality programs gets paid. It’s just a matter of how much per episode. This show is one big infomercial for the surgeon. Notice that he is listed as an Exec. Producer.

    • I have 100k hospital bill didn’t qualify for any state aide and worked since I was 14 yrs old lost all my retirement savings to be able to pay My mortgage and still today 8 yrs later being garnished thank you penny cause at least you don’t have to pay one for your bill!!!!!!

  23. I had the gastric sleeve surgery done in August of 2013. Now while I was not as big as Penny I was 350 pounds. I had another surgery (for an injury which kept me out of the gym for probably 2 months), in October of 2013. As of today I am now down about 105 pounds. It is just amazing to me how she has not been able to drop any weight. Watching the show last night I was just in amazement at the amount of food she is still able to consume. If I were to eat that much I would be throwing up terribly.

  24. Penny appears to be one of those people who think this surgery would be a “fix” to her inability to control her bad habits…It isn’t. I had the same surgery 3 years ago and I had to re-learn how to eat and live a different lifestyle. I lost 185 lbs and have kept it off because I didn’t look for this surgery to be my miracle but as my fresh start.
    penny will NEVER lose weight as long as she refuses to stop eating so much and the wrong food.
    The surgery was a waste of money on this woman.

    • She thinks that it’s just the surgery and then she doesn’t have to do anything. She needs a REALITY CHECK. It’s not gonna be easy and won’t be served on a silver platter

  25. The whole episode just left me FRUSTRATED! After a couple of weeks with no progress, I think that the doctor should have told her :NO MORE VISITS FROM YOUR HUSBAND until you have lost 50 lbs!!!

  26. You would think her son would motivate her but she is so indenal and selfish. I give props to that Dr. I would have quit on her a long time ago . When he ask can you stand . She just says no she doesn’t even try. She misses her appointment . Ready to murder her when her husband was getting her situated and she goes why aren’t you doing this or that . If something ever happened to her husband her son would have to go live somewhere else cause she does absolutely nothing . The comment about being a better parent then one that works 10+hrs is unexceptable those see the people paying for your bills so keep talking . I know her one sister had obesity but lost her weight … You would think she wouldn’t fall into penny’s bull crap.

  27. Penny really, really enjoys all the attention she gets from her husband. There is no other explanation.
    Penny is such a liar she has actually convinced herself that she she is doing the right thing and that everyone else has done her wrong. I love when she says “she can pretty much calculate the calories of everything she is eating”. Ha! That must be some calculator, can I use it to do my taxes next year?
    I too am overweight and understand how difficult it is to have a food addiction. But HOW can you possibly fail when you have had free bypass surgery, a free hospital stay with someone feeding you your exact diet, a free personal trainer and NO JOB TO GO TO, SO YOU HAVE ALLLLLLLLL DAY TO EXERCISE??
    How could it be made any easier for her.
    Her husband seems like a nice guy, but is a total dope for buying into her insanity and agreeing that “the scales were wrong”. Holy delusional!
    She is a loser & a liar, I am sad for her son and am sorry someone who deserved this surgery missed out on it because of her.

  28. I think the person of Penny is far more complex than being lazy or just needing a slap. The amount of viseral hatred and lack of compassion in these posts for a woman who is as emotionally disabled as physically is sad to me. What I see is an intelligent woman who self-sabotages any hopes of normalcy and lives in denial of any self responsibility for her current sad state. There are psychological reasons for her behavior and for her paradigm, and being lazy or stupid do not fit into the equation, but are projections other place on her out of their own lack of understanding of addiction. She is surrounded by enablers who are just as caught up in her disease of food addiction as she is. The tangled web that creates a life of addiction requires more than an initial wake up call, it is a continuous and perhaps life-long struggle that requires attention to the emotional health of the addict as well as the physical aspects of addiction. I see little if any attention to the emotional aspects of healing in these programs. Self-will alone will fail for addiction most every time, even if a good dose of brutal honesty might be a start. However the nature of addiction and a lifetime of addictive behavior is no small challenge to overcome. The doctor basically gave up on her, and perhaps rightly so, was not the one to help her with her emotional problems. People who have never dealt with addiction are quick to condemn failed efforts. I do agree that enablers need counseling as much as the addict, and that this whole family needs help individually and collectively. Reality TV is after ratings, and I am sure when this family agreed to show their journey, there was a hope for success. The abject failure says more about the ineffectiveness of surgery alone as a cure for food addiction at this level.

    • Thanks Laura. It’s why I wrote the piece in the first place. The backlash began during the first airing of the program and of all the episodes this season, Penny’s story has garnered 10-15 times more comments, mostly negative of course, than any other.

    • Really??? There have been other episodes where the people actually got up and walked and were heavier than Penny. Penny is a sorry excuse. She deserves nothing!! She’s crap!!

    • You make a good point laura, but I think most of us are frustrated to see someone in total denial of their situation. I agree, the problem is an issue that pervades the whole family and they all need to be counseled if there is any hope of reaching a victim of addiction. Was there further intervention than what we see on TV? Maybe, they could do a whole series on this girl, but within the constraints of the program’s theme I guess they just decided to focus on the physical aspects of obesity and surgery.

  29. why are any of you watching this —dont you see this is a mental illness. Have some compassion.

  30. In looking at this show and not necessarily the one in discussion, I feel the Dr. 1st should let them see a therapist and nutritionist before he starts to discuss lossing weight. This will help the client know why they r gaining weight and the nutritionist can find out what they r eating and how they prepare the food.. Put them on a diet that will be healthy and increase the clients metabolism. Maybe we dont see that part on TV but Thats what the Dr should be doing and then some.


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