Since 2012, audiences have tuned in to TLC’s My 600-Lb. Life. The show follows morbidly obese patients as they make the life-changing decision to undergo weight loss surgery. The stories that are shared through My 600-Lb. Life range from deeply tragic to inspirational. And at the center of all of the action is Dr. Now.
In every episode of the show, patients travel far and wide to seek medical attention from Dr. Now. Although the show’s real purpose is to highlight the patients and their stories, fans are obsessed with Dr. Now for his tough love and no-nonsense attitude. But outside of starring in nine seasons of TLC’s hit show, fans rarely get a peek into the personal life of Dr. Now. Did you know that his son is actually the mastermind behind the successful series? Here’s our deep dive on Dr. Now and the story behind the hit TLC show.
Dr. Now Has Been Practicing Medicine For Nearly 50 Years
Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, or more commonly known as just Dr. Now, grew up in Iran. It was there he attended medical school. He graduated from the University of Tehran in 1970. The following year, he traveled stateside to complete a medical orientation program at St. Louis University.
He completed a four-year surgical residency at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, and a cardiovascular fellowship at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas, where he eventually settled as his home base.
Dr. Now has nearly 50 years of experience practicing medicine, so the medical landscape has changed significantly since he first started practicing. He’s been at the forefront of bariatric surgery and is revered as a thought leader in the medical community for treating seriously overweight patients. During a keynote presentation at the 2016 ObesityHelp National Conference, Dr. Now discussed the evolution of weight loss surgery and medical facilities in general.
“It was an uphill battle to convince the hospital administration to go the extra mile and provide what we needed to help these patients. Back then, the equipment weight limit was only 400 pounds. As an example, the typical operating table would only hold 400 pounds. It was another challenge to convince anesthesiologists to put these heavier patients to sleep so the surgery could be done.”
Fast forward to today, and Dr. Now is one of the most respected and sought-after weight loss surgeons in the country. As documented on the show, he sees patients that other doctors refuse to treat.
With well over 100 episodes of My 600-Lb. Life, you might be wondering how he has time to see all of these patients. In an interview with Houstonia, he revealed that even at the age of 76, he still works 12 to 14 hour days, seven days a week, and sees between 60 and 80 patients each day. He’s a very busy doctor. And with such a busy schedule working with patients in person, don’t even think about asking him for weight loss tips over social media. Check out the very on-brand caption in this Instagram post.
He Has Been Implicated In Lawsuits Related To Bariatric Surgery
With several decades of medical experience, plus 10 seasons and counting of My 600-Lb. Life, Dr. Now has experienced some hiccups along the way in the form of litigation.
In 2011, Colleen Shepherd, the mother of a patient, Tina Shepherd, sued Dr. Now. Tina was 520 pounds when she underwent gastric bypass surgery. The procedure took place in 2004, well before TLC’s cameras were rolling at Dr. Now’s office. However, Tina tragically passed away just a year after her operation. In the suit, Colleen claims that Dr. Now did not adequately warn Tina about the procedure’s risks.
In 2018, James “LB” Bonner committed suicide following his appearance on My 600-lb. Life. Following his death, Texas attorney Tony Buzbee announced that he was representing Bonner in a lawsuit, claiming that the show and its production failed to offer any follow-up care or counseling. Buzbee went on to say that additional cases could be brought into the suit by other families who were impacted by the show and its star doctor.
An article by Heavy.com lists numerous former subjects of the My 600-lb. Life docuseries who allege malpractice and mistreatment from their time on the show.
Dr. Now Was Married And Has Three Kids
Outside of his extensive career in medicine, Dr. Now has lived a pretty normal home life. He got married to Delores Nowzaradan back in 1975, but they eventually divorced in 2002. Little did Delores know that her husband would eventually become a regular on TLC.
During their time together, the doctor and his wife had three kids. They have two daughters: Jennifer, who is a visual artist and instructor, and Jackie, who works as a communications coordinator for Dr. Now’s medical practice, according to her LinkedIn page.
Their only son Jonathan is the CEO of Megalomedia, a production company that focuses on lifestyle documentaries and series. They’ve produced shows like A&E’s Shipping Wars, TLC’s Cyberstalkers, and TNT’s Marshall Law: TX. Most famously, they’re the production company behind My 600-Lb. Life.
Dr. Now’s Son Serves As Director and Executive Producer For The Show
So how exactly did My 600-Lb, Life come to fruition? It all started in 2007 when Jonathan Nowzaradan produced a project called World’s Heaviest Woman, which would later receive the title of Half Ton Mum. The project followed Renee Williams, an 841-pound woman from Austin, Texas, who was bedridden for years and unable to find a doctor willing to operate on her.
Dr. Now was the only doctor who agreed to help her, which gave Jonathan unprecedented access to film the procedure and document her life leading up to the operation. Tragically, Williams died just two weeks following her surgery after suffering from a severe heart attack.
Despite the tragic ending to Williams’s story, the family kept in touch with Jonathan’s production team, and they were able to complete the documentary. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, Jonathan recalls the dark time in the production’s history. “They said, ‘You’re the only ones who treated us with dignity.’ And we did. We respected them.”
Williams’s heartbreaking story resonated with viewers, and it paved the way for similar shows like Half Ton Teen and Half Ton Dad, which all featured Dr. Now’s bariatric surgery expertise.
For three years, Jonathan and Megalomedia worked on filming another weight-focused series called Last Chance To Live. They followed six patients weighing over 600 pounds, focusing on their lives before and after weight loss surgery.
The concept eventually evolved into TLC’s My 600-Lb. Life. Nine seasons later, and Jonathan’s company is still behind the series. He serves as an executive producer and director.
You might be wondering why Jonathan chose to invest so heavily into his dad’s weight loss practice. It definitely isn’t for fame and fortune, according to Jonathan.
“The biggest thing is we’re not in this just to make money,” Jonathan told Austin Chronicle. “We’re in this because there’s so much to be done with film and media, and we don’t just give that up to sell a project out.”
Dr. Now also acknowledges the importance of the show. He sees it as an opportunity to inspire. Speaking at the 2016 ObesityHelp National Conference, he said, “We continue to try to provide education for everyone. That’s the reason I started the television series was to make an impression on the medical community that they should take care of these patients. Another reason important to me was to have a show that provided inspiration for people and for the medical community with my hope to change biased opinions about morbidly obese people.”