Heaviest person in medical history

Jon Brower Minnoch (USA) lived between 1941 and 1983. During his tragically short time on earth, he entered the annals of Guinness World Records as the heaviest person in medical history.

His life, marked by unimaginable challenges and extraordinary resilience, has left an indelible mark on medical science, as well as on society's perception of medical conditions such as eating disorders and obesity. 

In March 1978, he was officially recognized as the heaviest person who ever lived

Jon Minnoch black and white

Jon's life began in September 29, 1941, in the small city of Bainbridge Island, east of Washington state. 

Suffering from severe obesity since childhood, at the tender age of 12 Jon already weighed an incredible 294 lb (133 kilograms; 21.0 stone): a mass that he would never be able to fully control and that, over time, would cause him increasingly dangerous health problems. Once he was re-measured and visited by a doctor in 1963, Jon had now grown to be 185 cm (6 ft 1 in) tall and weighed 178 kg (392 lb or 28 st).

During that same year he also married his first wife, Jean McArdle: referred to as “Jeannette,” she would stand by his side during his first hospitalizations and efforts to control his growing weight. 

Together, the couple worked for the taxi company Bainbridge Island Taxi Co. Despite Jon's increasing health tribulations due to his size and overworked heart, the Minnochs had a friendly disposition and were notorious for having a good reputation among their neighbours. 

During a further measurement in 1966, three years after his marriage to Jeannette, Jon was found to be 317 kg (700 lb or 50 st). He would be 442 kg (975 lb or 69 st 9 lb) in September 1976. 

His weight turned Jon into a focal point of medical inquiry and media attention and, as the years went by, his condition worsened. 

By 1978, his weight had furtherly skyrocketed, which would severely undermine his health and living conditions as his heart, respiratory and circulation problems worsened to the point of being life-threatening. 

Tired of the continuous pain and occasionally venturing into reckless diets which often ended in critical relapses after reducing his food intake to "almost nothing,” Jon put desperate effort into improving his condition. All along, he tried his best to live a normal life.

In March of that year, he was admitted to Seattle's University Hospital.

After visiting him, consultant endocrinologist Dr Robert Schwartz calculated that the record-breaking patient must have weighed more than 635 kg (1,400 lb or 100 st) - an unprecedented result that was, however, severely threatening Jon's life. 

Incredibly, the sole process of getting him to the University Hospital took a dozen firemen and an improvised stretcher, so that the patient could be moved from his home to a ferry boat without too much discomfort. 

Once he arrived at the hospital, saturated with fluid and suffering from heart and respiratory failure, Jon was put in two beds lashed together. It took 13 assistants to roll him over.

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About 80% of his body was composed of adipose tissue (commonly known as body fat), and a great deal of that record-breaking weight was water accumulation due to his congestive heart failure. 

However, Jon's hospitalization marked another record-breaking discovery for his family: in 1978 Jon and Jeannette broke the record for the greatest weight differential recorded for a married couple; a record that remains unbeaten to this day. The two differed by a jaw-dropping total of 585 kg (92.12 st or 1,289.70 lb), with Jeannette weighing 50 kg (7.87 st or 110.2 lb).

Jon and his then-wife Jeannette divorced in 1980. 

Nonetheless, he moved on with his everyday life and, as he continued to combat his health issues, he went on to marry Shirley Ann Griffen in January 1982. 

During his marriages Jon also fathered two sons: John and Jason.

illustration of obese human white background

Jon's obesity and eating disorder was a complex interplay of genetics, environment, and physiological factors. 

He faced a host of medical issues, from heart problems to diabetes, all exacerbated by his immense weight and the limited tools of the time against eating disorders, obesity and an unhealthy food culture. 

Jon's time on earth was a constant struggle against obesity-related health and societal challenges, and his life had been punctuated by medical professionals attempting to find solutions that would help him manage his condition.

He was discharged from Seattle Hospital after nearly two years, after following a balanced diet of 1,200 calories per day; he exited the hospital with a critical improvement and weighing 216 kg (476 lb or 34 st).

Illustration of sleep apnea

With incredible resilience and efforts, Jon continued to strive. However, sadly, he had to be readmitted to the hospital after gaining more weight. 

In October 1981 he had to be readmitted, after gaining over 89 kg (197 lb or 34 st).

Although the causes of his situation were never fully identified beyond an excessive calories intake, Jon's life allowed doctors to study the effect of Class III obesity on patients, and it remains a reminder that behind every individual is a narrative that transcends physical appearance and statistics. 

At the moment of his death, which sadly happened on 10 September 1983, he weighed more than 362 kg (798 lb or 57 st). 

He fathered two sons.

In August 2013, Khalid bin Mohsen Shaari (1991, Saudi Arabia) was unofficially thought to be the heaviest living person and the second-heaviest person in recorded history at 610 kg (1,340 lb; 96 st).
As a result of medical treatment, however, he lost a total of 320 kg (710 lb; 50 st) — more than half his body weight — in the incredible span of six months.

heaviest woman ever

The latest person to achieve the official title of heaviest living woman is the American Pauline Potter.

Living in Sacramento, California, at the time Pauline was confirmed to be weighing 291.6 kg (643 lbs). 

After learning about the title in 2011, Pauline declared that being recognized by Guinness World Records as the heaviest living woman would encourage her to change.

Ever since, she successfully underwent several journeys of self-improvement and became a well-known TV personality during season three of My 600lb Life, the TLC show featuring Dr Younan Nowzaradan. 

Pauline has recently been featured in an update on Dr Now's Instagram, showing the process of her weight loss journey.

“I am very proud of the commitment and progress Pauline has made,” the doctor commented on his caption.

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