'House' Episode Stirs Up Healthy Obese Debate
November 7th episode of FOX's "House" featured 600-pound man
Did you catch the November 7th episode of the hit FOX drama "House" which features the brilliant acting of Hugh Laurie in the role of Dr. Gregory House? My wife Christine absolutely LOVES this show and never misses an episode on Tuesday nights. She told me about tonight's episode and said I should watch it with her after seeing the previews because it deals with an obese man who is admitted to the hospital with a mysterious disease that put him in a coma.
Of course, the first thing all the doctors do is try to figure out why the 600-pound man, in an intense gripping performance by actor Pruitt Taylor Vince, got to be so sick and they immediately looking for correlations to his massive weight problem. The doctors start conducting tests on the obese man to see what is wrong and run into problems that actually reminded me a lot of my brother Kevin, who coincidentally also weighs 600 pounds.
Like Kevin, the obese character on "House" had difficulty having an MRI conducted because the table weight limit is 450 pounds. They got his "seven-foot waist" in the machine while he was still in a coma, but then he woke up from it in the midst of the test. Not surprisingly, he breaks the table as the doctors attempt to calm him down.
When the man is brought back to his hospital room, he tells the doctors he is all better now and that they should let him go. But they attempted to convince him that being in a coma was serious and they wanted to find out the reason why he fell into that physical state in the first place. Stubbornly, the obese man attempts to leave the hospital only to collapse through the front glass window of the hospital lobby after losing his balance on his way out.
The reaction from the obese man about his deteriorating condition is that people have constantly judged him about his health throughout his life because of his weight even though he claims his health was fantastic prior to the coma. The doctors keep trying to look at all kinds of theories about his strange health complications that don't have anything to do with his weight. But the obese man took great offense to being tested for diabetes because he considered that another "fat" disease and threw a temper tantrum flinging sugar water all over the place.
During an altercation with the obese man, Dr. House finally figures out the real reason for the coma had to do with cancer which they all conclude had nothing to do with what one of the doctors described as a "suicidal" weight problem. More on why that conclusion was dead wrong in a moment.
I'm so glad I watched this show because it was fascinating on so many levels. I really enjoyed the way they attempted to show that it is possible for overweight and obese people to be relatively healthy despite their weight. There was a time in my life when I felt that way about my health, even though I weighed 410 pounds. But the eventual damage I was inflicting on myself was going to catch up to me sooner or later! Thankfully, I shed 200 pounds and never suffered those consequences.
But this obese character REALLY reminded me of Kevin who actually pretends to think he is healthy despite being on a handful of prescription medications and in and out of hospitals for the past six years with heart-related problems. Is it normal to walk around as a 600-pounder thinking everything is peachy keen? Why do people who allow themselves to get this big get so angry when people attempt to help them? Don't they realize they have a problem that needs to be fixed?
The whole healthy obese debate was on display front and center in this "House" episode and it reminded me of the popular "fat acceptance" movement that so many overweight people have embraced as a way to avoid directly confronting their weight problem. Trivializing obesity by calling it a medical illness or disease, as was mentioned in the show, is yet another scapegoat that prevents people from losing weight. While you may not have chosen to get fat, doing something about reversing that condition is the responsibility of the individual.
One scene from this "House" episode haunts me even now when I heard the obese character declaring that he dreams about, loves smelling, loves cooking, and, of course, loves eating food and that he thinks he can't really do anything about. Being this overly obsessed about food is as bad a problem as being addicted to and hooked on the worst drug you can think of. Sure, drugs will kill you faster, but food is such an unassuming way to dig yourself an early grave. One of the doctors told the obese man, "You don't see too many obese old people these days, do you?" And it's true!
Obese people need to understand that people aren't judging them when they offer to help with their weight problem. If they get angry at this, then that's a pride issue that needs to be dealt with. I know it can be difficult to admit you have a problem with your eating habits because I've been there. But there are very pleasurable ways to rise above the criticism and do something productive that will help you shed the pounds while vastly improving your health.
I cannot imagine living inside of a 600-pound body and not feeling the effects of that. Nevermind the fact that you can't buy clothes at a regular store, you can't fit in a restaurant booth, movie theater seat or behind the wheel of a car, your mobility is severely limited, or any of the other bazillion or so problems with being that big. The obese man said he'd rather enjoy eating his favorite food than to have to suffer running 26 miles a day. This totally misses the point.
Getting healthy is not an overnight thing just as getting morbidly obese doesn't happen in an instant. But the road to getting better does start with that first step in the right direction. Getting your mind set in the right direction, following a proven plan for success, and then executing that plan is what will make weight loss come for just about anyone. If people want it bad enough, then they will do whatever it takes to get there. Remaining obese should NEVER be a viable option if you truly care about the future of your health.
What an excellent subject matter for one of the hottest shows on television to tackle head-on! I'm glad I watched this episode of "House" and would like to hear your thoughts about it if you saw it, too. Even if you didn't, let's continue this debate in the comments section about where it is possible to be healthy as an obese person. Can a 600-pound man be truly healthy from head to toe with absolutely no negative consequences to his weight, hmmm? I say NO WAY! While he may not have any visible problems right now, I believe he's allowing major problems to be cultivated from within that will catch up to him in very short order.
Oh, one last thing about the way this "House" episode ended. When they break the news to the obese man at the end of the episode that he has an inoperable form of esophageal cancer which will lead to his death, they leave the viewers assuming the cancer had nothing to do with his weight or diet. But guess again! You will recall this recent study I highlighted which found eating a high-carb diet actually leads directly to cancer of the esophagus. So, in essence, it WAS his poor eating habits that led to his demise after all, even if it wasn't a direct result of his morbid obesity. Ironic huh?
Where do YOU stand? Healthy obese or eventual demise?