Woman Loses 410 Pounds, TODAY Turns Her Into a Side ShowPosted on Jun 23rd 2009 4:00PM by Maggie Vink
Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss
Tammey Burns went from being so obese that she couldn't sleep lying down to being a competitive race walker. Through sheer hard work and determination, Burns lost an amazing 410 pounds.
At her high weight of 575 pounds, Burns was afraid to sit on furniture for fear she would break it, yet she couldn't stand for long periods without experiencing pain. She had multiple obesity-related conditions and had to rely on family members to help her with personal hygiene. She began losing weight, but at 403 pounds, her breathing issues were still so severe she had to have a tracheotomy tube inserted to help her get air. Rather than becoming frustrated, that gave her more determination than ever. She joined a fitness center and connected with a walking coach. She began viewing food as fuel and not as her "drug of choice." And she eventually became competitive in race walking. Burns is now a healthy 165 pounds.
Burns is nothing short of an inspiration. She's proof that even those with drastic amounts of weight to lose -- those who have weight-related health issues -- can lose weight the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise.
Burns well deserved to be featured on the "TODAY" Joy Fit Club. But I think the show went from celebrating her achievements to treating her like a side show.
Burns' smile when she first walked on stage was radiant. In fact, she didn't just walk, she strutted, and it was wonderful to see. Soon, however, her smile seemed to become strained.
After they discussed her amazing achievement, the camera panned to the right to show buckets and piles of lard; 410 pounds of lard to be exact. "Tammey, this is what you were carrying around on your body on a daily basis," explained Matt Lauer.
As if that weren't enough, they had three interns standing there. "Three Today interns (who) collectively total 410 pounds. Tammey literally lost those three interns," said Joy Bauer. Those three interns later piled themselves into a pair of Burns' pants for a photo op.
This seems to be part of larger, and disturbing, trend. With the success of "The Biggest Loser," other shows have followed, and the treatment of overweight and obese people is shifting into something more sensationalistic. Oxygen is set to premiere "Dance Your Ass Off" next week. The show may prove to be fun, but the contestants' costumes send up a red flag. They certainly aren't striving to let the contestants look their best and keep their dignity. (That's Fit will have a full review of DYAO next week -- be sure to check back and read what we have to say.) And Fox has ordered up a dating show, "More to Love," for overweight people; but it remains to be seen how the contestants will be treated. Even The Biggest Loser has its low points. Overall, we're fans of "The Biggest Loser" here at That's Fit, but like many others, we take issue with the spandex pants and sports bras the contestants are given, as well as the nature of the temptation challenges.
People have always loved a weight loss success story, but sensationalistic coverage of obesity and weight loss is a new trend. Weight loss success stories should be a celebration of the person's achievements. And goodness knows that stories like Burns' weight loss are an inspiration for others. But just because a person is now thin (or trying to become thin) doesn't mean that their overweight bodies can be treated disrespectfully.
Is the media turning overweight and obese people into side shows?