Houston Represents (Of Course) On New Obesity Reality-TV Series

Ticket to early death, or reality-TV stardom
When Tom dropped out of high school and was no longer the football star, his weight increased with his depression. By the time he was 37, he packed 638 pounds onto a 5-foot-nine frame.

Jodi, also 37, recently suffered a stroke -- an especially serious incident, given that her 363 pounds have already jeopardized her health.

These Houstonians will be featured on A&E's new reality series, Heavy, which follows folks who battle obesity during six months of treatment. Premiering January 17, the 11-episode series features two participants per installment.

But haven't we seen enough Fat People shows already?

Not like this, says producer Jonathan Nowzaradan, who points out that Heavy isn't a competition. The idea was to avoid gimmicks and go for the drama of people dealing with a real, life-threatening issue with the help of a healthy, professional treatment program. The goal was to "give them the tools that they need to make this change for the long term," Nowzaradan tells Hair Balls.

Five episodes revolve around folks who get treatment at an Austin clinic. And apparently, the weight loss among all 22 participants was dramatic -- totalling more than 2,440 pounds, according to A&E promotional material. Half of the participants shed "more than 30 percent of their body mass and [lost] between 63-173 lbs."

In the series opener, we'll learn why Tom and Jodi "are heavy and how they must reverse their lifestyles or die." We assume there's a happy ending, otherwise the series is gonna be a bit of a drag. But we wonder: is it okay to eat popcorn while we watch, or should we opt for something healthier?

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Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow