In her early twenties she met a man and they were married. The couple eventually had a son. Bradford found herself staying home with their son and cooking a lot. Her weight continued to accelerate uncontrollably, as did her appetite. She eventually tried several diets and joined Weight Watchers with little success.
Finally, after a blood infection landed her in the hospital, Bradford gave up on exercise altogether when the necessary bed rest allowed for her weight gain to accelerate. She remained immobile for eight years. She reached a peak weight of 1,199 lb (544 kg) in January 1987. In 1988, she became so depressed and frustrated that she attempted to commit suicide with painkillers, although, due to her weight, these only made her sleep for a couple of days.
A concerned friend contacted Richard Simmons, a familiar face in the weight-loss industry. Simmons then contacted Bradford and spoke to her at length. She recalled Simmons saying “God doesn’t make junk and you are worth the effort.” After the phone call she received a package from him containing some exercise tapes and an eating plan.
She started small by clapping her hands along to the videos. “It was the only movement I could do,” she explained. She focused on her diet and stuck to Simmons’s plan. After a year she had dropped 420 lb (190 kg). Eventually she got some more outside help from a physiotherapist and soon her weight dropped to 500 lb (226 kg), a total weight loss of 699 lb (317 kg). Bradford persisted with her weight-loss plan and eventually reduced her weight to under 300 lb (136 kg), claiming a total weight loss of 917 lb (416 kg). The lymphatic system in her legs was damaged in one of five surgeries to remove excess skin left by her weight loss.
Rosalie Bradford died on November 29, 2006 at a hospital in Lakeland (near her Auburndale, Florida home). She was 63 years old, and was survived by her husband Robert Bradford and son Robbie. She continues to hold the world record for having lost the most weight by a woman.
- 7 Most Astonishing Stories Of Successful Weight Loss, PR Log press release, Jan 09, 2010[unreliable source?]
- 8 Amazing Weight Loss Stories, Oddee.com[unreliable source?]
- Two-time Guinness Book Record Holder Rosalie Bradford Speaks Out at RosalieBradford.com, archived 13 Feb 2008 at the Internet Archive
- Obituary notice at RosalieBradford.com, archived 13 Feb 2008 at the Internet Archive
- Half Ton Man, BodyShock, Channel 4