At his heaviest, Manuel Uribe Garza weighed 1,234 pounds — or about equal to the weight of seven average-sized men in North America. Picture it for a moment: Seven grown adults, amassed in a single human body.
The mega-obese Mexican shocked and fascinated the public when in 2006 he was declared Heaviest Living Man by the Guinness World Records. By 2007, he made news again for a spate of rapid weight loss — some 200 kilos, or 440 pounds — a trend he spoke of proudly yet struggled to maintain as time went on. Uribe’s size confined him to his bed for years and left him unable to wear most clothing.
On Monday, Uribe died in his hometown of Monterrey, in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, having suffered kidney failure and cardiac arrest. He was 48.
For years, Uribe’s weight crystallized for the world the obesity crisis gripping contemporary Mexico. A country where an estimated 50 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line, Mexico has in the last decade has become the fattest country on the planet, even surpassing its northern neighbor and world’s largest economy, the United States, in U.N. child obesity figures.
The former world’s heaviest man gained at least one benefit from the media attention that started in 2006: a girlfriend. In October 2008, he married Claudia Solis, in a rare trip he made outside of his house in the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas. He wore a customized white tuxedo to the ceremony, arriving not aboard a horse-drawn coach or a vintage car, but a ribbon-festooned forklift.
Uribe weighed 868 pounds when he was admitted to the University Hospital in Monterrey for heart arrhythmia on May 2, reports said. The hospital announced his passing on Monday morning.
“Well what can I tell you? I’m very sad because my son is finished,” Uribe’s mother, Otilia Garza Alanís, told reporters in Monterrey on Monday. Garza Alanís said Uribe was planning a party for upcoming birthday, June 11, and wanted to prepare himself a Nuevo Leon-style barbeque.
“He liked making carne asada so that all the houses could smell it, so they could know he was making a carne asada, because if there was carne asada, he’d say that God could smell the aroma,” Uribe’s mother said.