Thousand-Pound Sisters

Amy and Tammy Slaton, sisters from Webster, Kentucky, burst onto the media scene in 2014 by taking part in the “Chubby Bunny Challenge” — in which participants eat marshmallows one at a time and repeat “chubby bunny” with each marshmallow still in their mouth. Writer Brent Furdyk notes, “While the Chubby Bunny challenge can be funny, it’s also one of the most dangerous food challenges ever.”

Then, they became stars of a TV reality show, “1000-Lb Sisters.” Furdyk says,

Tammy explained that her motivation to have bariatric surgery and to document her weight-loss journey for TLC was to simply become healthy. She shared that she’s coped with two blood clots, pneumonia, and several medical procedures. She was even being placed on life support in the past.

Tammy also suffers from gout and, more recently, coronavirus. Among other physical manifestations, she has a prominent forehead bulge, which was feared to be a tumor but turned out to be a “fat socket,” a storage place for fat that simply had nowhere else to go.

Amy apparently started out as more of a healthy-weight child, but the girls’ caregiver, their grandmother, died when they were 10 and 11, and grief-eating, along with too much alone time while their mother worked, soon facilitated the piling on of pounds. When they signed up to do their TV show (now in its third season), Tammy weighed over 600 pounds and Amy more than 400.

Change gonna come

Both siblings became more seriously motivated by being on TV. Tammy got into swimming, and Amy became fond of dancing and long walks. For both, giving up fizzy, sugary soda was the hardest sacrifice. Amy, who is married, managed to lose enough weight to become eligible for bariatric surgery, and then became pregnant.

Her sister’s reaction was not joy, but concern, because Amy had been warned to wait for at least two years post-surgery before attempting motherhood. Nevertheless, in November of last year, little Gage, weighing only 5 pounds 6 ounces, was delivered by C-section.

Holding her son for the TV audience, Amy said, “He’s so small.” A cynical person with a cruel streak might say, “The jokes just write themselves.” While Amy is the more svelte of the two sisters, a 50-pound baby would seem small in comparison. But before objecting to that slight amount of levity, a critic should first take a look at People magazine and its silly treatment of the story, describing the first time Amy held her child as “emotional.” What a fresh take! The new mother is quoted:

Holding Gage for the first time felt surreal,” she said in a confessional. “My heart just melted. He was so perfect. His little fingers, his toes… Amy also opened up about the emotions…”

Getting a brand-new mother to say something nice about her baby is hardly a journalistic feat comparable to Woodward and Bernstein convincing Watergate witness Deep Throat to spill the beans. In what sense is any of this “confessional”? That word is associated with the reporting of one’s sins to a priest, or the admission in a courtroom to a crime. The birth of a child, while marvelous and miraculous, is nevertheless a pretty mundane event, and to sensationalize a typical mother’s reaction as a “confessional” is disrespectful, exploitative, and warped.

Meanwhile, big sister Tammy has gained weight. Now up to 665 pounds, she has been warned by her doctors that she has an 80% of dying within five years.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “The Untold Truth Of TLC’s 1000-Lb Sisters,” TheList.com, 01/14/20
Source: “Watch Amy Slaton Hold Son Gage for the First Time on 1000-Lb. Sisters: ‘Love Him So Much’,” People.com, 03/01/21
Source: “1000-Lb Sisters star Tammy Slaton told ‘she has a 80 percent chance of dying within FIVE YEARS’ unless she loses weight,” The-Sun.com, 01/04/21
Image by Tony Alter/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:

Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources