Shady Things About TLC's My 600-Lb Life Everyone Ignores

"My 600-Lb Life" debuted in 2012 on TLC with the premise of helping obese people lose weight through gastric bypass surgery and diet. The show's go-to surgeon, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, AKA Dr. Now, is the expert who performs the procedures and is at the heart of the long-running series. He has since become a fan favorite with his blunt advice and stern warnings to patients about what they have to do in order to qualify for the weight-loss surgery. However, what you don't know about Dr. Now from "My 600-Lb Life" is that he was involved with some shady behind-the-scenes legal issues.

While there are plenty of success stories from the patients who have undergone treatment, the show has been marred with brow-raising incidents that fans may not have known or chosen to ignore. Sure, the weight-loss stories are indeed heartwarming, but it's hard to ignore the many other issues either the stars or production has faced throughout the series' long run.

My 600-Lb Life has been slammed as exploitative

Many tune in to "My 600-Lb Life" to watch the most dramatic transformations of once-obese people trying to change their lives for the better, but some think that they come at a cost. Author of "Weightless: Making Space for My Resilient Body and Soul," Evette Dionne, criticized the show for depicting its stars in an inhumane way, such as filming them unable to get out of bed and gorging on unhealthy food (via BuzzFeed News). "From the show's perspective, we have to see these subjects eating because that's the only way the disgust will really sink in. These are fat people! the show tells us. Look at them! Do you want to be like them? Stop eating! It's at this point that the show fully loses itself to depravity," she wrote. Dionne also pointed out that Dr. Nowzaradan doesn't focus nearly enough on the psychological aspects of why his patients are obese, and he simply tells them to lose weight and stick to a strict 1,200 calorie-per-day diet.

A viewer shared Dionne's sentiment in a Reddit post and wrote, "Some people need more help than sending them away with a diet. How does the show justify sending people away on their own, only to have them fail, when it places so much emphasis on how close to death some of them are? I'm struggling to see this show as ethical anymore."

Dr. Younan Nowzaradan has been sued multiple times

All surgeries come with a risk, but one patient of Dr. Younan Nowzaradan was not expecting to end up with a foreign object in her body. As reported by Radar, a woman named Michelle Park sued the "My 600-Lb Life" doc in 2012 for allegedly leaving an almost seven-inch tube inside her after performing bariatric surgery on her. The suit stated that the item was in her body for 22 months and claimed, "The tube punctured Mrs. Park's colon ... requiring the surgical removal of part of her colon." The plaintiff dropped the suit a year later, and it's unclear if both parties settled the matter privately.

It seems like 2012 was a bad year for Dr. Now, as he was slapped with a lawsuit yet again in November, per Radar. The wife of a former patient claimed that the reality star failed to follow up after treating him in September 2010, which led to his death the following March. "Defendants failed to advise the plaintiffs of the full extent and significance of his condition and the need for immediate testing to rule out various diagnoses, or if those diagnoses proved correct, to implement immediate follow-up treatment," the suit read. Again, the case was dropped.

Stars of My 600-Lb Life aren't paid much to be on the show

Starring in "My 600-Lb Life" is a long commitment. The patients don't just drop in Dr. Younan Nowzaradan's office, have the gastric surgery, and go home. On the contrary, filming takes about a year, during which time the stars meet with Dr. Now to get approved for the surgery and take the time to lose weight beforehand if needed. A tragic detail about "My 600 Lb-Life" is that a year's worth of camera time only gets the stars a measly $1,500, and they don't even receive money for residuals, per TV Overmind. If they choose to move to Houston to be closer to Dr. Now, the stars get a stipend of $2,500. The stars do get a bonus of another $1,500 for follow-up episodes that show how they're doing post-weight loss.

One perk of being on "My 600-Lb Life" is that the patients don't have to pay for their medical care themselves and get their gastric surgery fully paid for. However, former star Steven Assanti shared in a now-deleted Facebook video (via Starcasm) that the filming was grueling. "So exhausting to the point that there are days that I don't even want to film. And I try to avoid being filmed, but the camera crew — especially one of them in particular — is so persistent that he will continue to knock on the door, and knock on the door, and knock on the door until you can't stand it anymore ... It's just a lot of work," he revealed.

My 600-Lb Life stars accused producers of causing them emotional distress

Some aspects of reality shows have to be produced but "My 600-Lb Life" star Destinee LaShaee accused the showrunners of going too far for ratings. In 2020, The U.S. Sun reported that LaShaee, whose legal name is Matthew Ventress, filed a suit against the show's production company Megalomedia for causing emotional harm while filming. She stated that the producers forced her to shave her facial hair and claimed in the filing, "The filming of her shaving was so painful that it was not made part of the show. The stress led Plaintiff to have a breakdown in which she kicked the producers out of her home, and threatened to kill them and herself." Lashaee tragically died in February 2022 from unknown causes.

Another star, Gina Marie Krasley, sued Megalomedia and companies associated with it as well, alleging that the producers urged her to be filmed gorging on food to portray her as someone with no willpower, E! News reported. She also accused the producers of disregarding her mental state while she was on an extreme weight-loss regimen. Sadly, Krasley died in August 2021 from an illness not yet identified.

The aftermath of starring in My 600-Lb Life is bleak

As everyone knows, starring in reality shows can make or break couples, and some "My 600-Lb Life" stars' relationships didn't fare well after their weight loss. As reported by InTouch, Zsalynn Whitworth's husband wanted her to keep her larger frame and told her, "I'm not buying you a salad. If you want to eat grass, you can go in the garden and graze." In the follow-up episode, Whitworth revealed that she had since divorced. "[My husband] hasn't found much good in my changes. It's time for us to admit it's over," she stated. Laura Perez's husband didn't like her changes either, as they took away his power over taking care of her. "The better I get, the worse my relationship is getting. [Joey] acts a little different, like 'Oh, you don't need me.' I had told him, 'I need you to support me not take care of me,'" Perez shared.

Steven Assanti's brother, Justin Assanti, wished he had never been on "My 600-Lb Life" in the first place. In a Reddit Q&A, when a fan asked him if he would star in the show again, he replied, "I would rather seek out options before signing away the rights to my name, my life, etc. I went from no one knowing I existed to being harassed all day on social media, my business, and phone calls. I wouldn't do it again."