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Life In The Fat Lane: Part 1

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 Life In The Fat Lane: Part 1

It is of no surprise that the levels of obesity have more than doubled within the last fourteen years. From that perspective it would be valuable to see what is life is like for the overweight individual.

Emine Saner of the Guardian (16 01 09) critically evaluates what life is like for three very different people.

For today’s purpose, we will observe and try to get an understandig into the life of Julie Worboys.

It was five years ago that Julie Worboys changed her position from a warden for a sheltered housing estate to look after her disabled husband. She says, “It was quite an energetic job, but when I stopped I think that’s when the extra weight went on,”

For Julie, she describes food as “like a comfort blanket” Furthermore, and, it is not rocket science to identify the type of food Julie enjoys, like cakes, sweets, chocolate - isn’t just about the taste. She was reared by her grandmother as her own parents had to work long hours. However Granny would feed Julie on cakes and puddings. Her father to, would compensate her for not having her parents around. julie recalls, my dad would bring me home a big bag of sweets on a Friday night. It was supposed to last me all week but it never did.”

Worboy’s had always been large, she states, “Obviously at school, I got all the usual comments. It makes it worse, because you’re upset so you go home and eat. When I got married in 1980 I was a size 22. It just snowballed, and the more depressed I get about it, the more I eat.” Buying her wedding dress was the last time she went clothes shopping with friends. “It does stop your life,” she says. “If I go to a restaurant, which isn’t often, I will always try to get in the corner. I can’t go on holiday abroad because sitting in a plane seat is awful - getting the seatbelt on, putting the tray down. You have to ask for this extension belt that comes in bright orange and the air steward walks down the cabin with it - it’s embarrassing. I love swimming but I won’t go because I’m too self-conscious.”

In trying to establish what Julie thinks about herself, she is honest and says, “I’ve tried to laugh it off but you can’t always,” she says and her eyes well with tears. “I’ve tried everything. I can lose the weight but I can’t keep it off. I can lose five stone, then I get bored and think one sweet or one cake won’t hurt, and, of course, one leads to two, three and it all goes back on. Or a bill comes in, and I get down and then it’s comfort eating. I’ve seen dieticians and they’ve told me what I should and shouldn’t eat. Everyone talks about willpower, but I just haven’t got it.”

In the last year, Worboys, who lives in West Byfleet, Surrey, has put on three stone and now weighs 23st - “the heaviest I’ve ever been” - and it is starting to seriously affect her health. “My husband says I wake up fighting for breath in the night. I love walking down the Thames with the dogs, but I walk for 10 minutes and I can’t do any more.”

From Julies perspective,in her experience, she has always found that the GPs she has seen in the past have been unsympathetic. “They’ll say, in not so many words, that you’ve got yourself into this situation.”

In addressing how the campaign to bring obesity down is going, Julie will argue the amount of monies spent on other health related issues such as smokers get free patches. She declares but they’re not being forced to drink alcohol, inject themselves with drugs or smoke. I think we should be treated the same. I don’t want to tar us all with the same brush, but I think we should be treated as if we are addicts.’

In actual fact, this is a valid argument in relation to adiction.

Hitherto, Worboys has requested stomach surgery and has been thinking about the procedure for sometime, she argues, “Surgery isn’t a lighthearted way of losing weight and I’m very aware that it is a big operation, but I could sit here and drop dead anyway of a heart attack, so I need to give myself a chance, it depends on whether I get the funding for it from the primary care trust.”

In terms of cost-effectiveness, each procedure will cost the NHS in the region of £10,000. The issue that needs to be adressed is the idea that whilst this may be seen as a heavy outlay, the benefits can be seen from the point of view that the NHS spends inexcess of £500m a year treating the secondary conditions.

For Julie, however who says, “If they say no, then I’ll stay as I am, which to me is very sad. I’m asking for help and if I don’t do anything about it now, I know I will die fat. I need to try to do something about it and have a little bit of a life left.”

We will look at Ken’s story tomorrow.

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