Chewing the Fat: So, Who Are the Heaviest People Ever to Walk on Earth?

Mar 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

Jon Brower Minnoch: The world's fattest human -- so far
Jon Brower Minnoch: The world's fattest human -- so far
The Riverfront Times is out today in its print edition with a story on how the growing number of grossly overweight people -- the morbidly obese, as they're categorized -- is increasingly turning city fire department EMTs and paramedics into beasts of burden.

As one EMT told the RFT, "We have a regular (patient) we're always transporting, a lady with an abdomen so large that she has to rest it on a footstool in order to breathe."

She went on: "We've had calls from patients -- perpetually sick because of their weight -- completely panicked because they can't reach the TV remote."

While back-weary medical-response crews continue their struggle with the unpleasantly plump, the Daily RFT thought it might be illuminating to chronicle some of the fattest people ever to walk God's green Earth.

Jon Brower Minnoch (1941-1983), most researchers agree, was the heaviest person in medical history. At his peak, the big man from Bainbridge Island, Washington, weighed in at around 1,400 pounds. Of course, this is only an estimate, as a lack of mobility prevented the use of a scale.

They say it took 13 people just to roll Minnoch over in bed. A former cab driver, Minnoch, the father of two children by his 110-pound wife, suffered from massive edema. He did manage to slim down to 800 pounds at the time of his death.

Another top contender for the heavyweight crown was Roselie Bradford of Sellersville, Pennsylvania, who clocked in at 1053 pounds. There are reports that she inhaled as many as 15,000 calories per day, back in her salad days, the early 1980s. It was not uncommon for her to put away three large pizzas in 40 minutes, washing them down with a diet soda. Isn't it always a diet soda with these guys?

The people of Fishhook, Illinois, have erected a monument to Robert Earl Hughes
The people of Fishhook, Illinois, have erected a monument to Robert Earl Hughes
Closer to home, the pride of Fishhook, Illinois, (a farm hamlet 20 miles southeast of Quincy) Robert Earl Hughes tipped the scales at 1,041 pounds and had a waist line of 122 inches. For a time in the 1950s, Hughes was thought to be the world's heaviest person, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Legend has it that when he died in 1958 at the age of 32, they buried him in a packing case made for a grand piano. In June 2007, as noted in our news story, a four-foot-tall monument was dedicated to Hughes. It is located on Fishhook's main street -- near the feed store.

There's even a picture of him and an inscription that reads: "Robert Earl Hughes: The World's Largest Man."