“Our country’s rates of obesity are storing up future problems for individuals and our NHS. But worryingly, there is now consistent evidence that people who are overweight or living with obesity who contract coronavirus (COVID-19) are more likely to be admitted to hospital, to an intensive care unit and, sadly to die from COVID-19 compared to those of a healthy body weight status7. Obesity has become an immediate concern for anyone who is overweight and for our health and care services”
This is a quote taken from the Uk Government website please see the full text in the link below.
Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives – GOV.UK
“More likely to Die from Covid-19 compared to those of a healthy body weight”
“MORE LIKELY TO DIE”
As a person living with Obesity, spending most of my 47 years of life struggling to reduce my ever increasing weight.
Years of failed attempts at fad diets and exercise trends.
Slimming world, weight watchers, Atkins to name a few. I would loose weight at first only to regain it back and more over time.
Unfortunately at 24 stone you wear your Obesity for the whole world to see and Judge. If someone saw me in the street they would not know I’d just finished working a 12 hour night shift in a supermarket, an extremely physical job unloading wagons, lifting boxes, stacking shelves for the days customers. My body fuelled by a salad. I would finish my shift and attend a 2 hour gym and swim session with my personal trainer, going home to crawl into bed only to wake up and do it all again.
The person in the street would simply see my body size and assume I choose to live in that body, that I bring it on myself.
My weight never moved not a pound lost or gained over a 2 year period. My personal trainer couldn’t understand why. I spoke with my GP and was referred to weight management services, diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and high blood pressure it was decided I needed more than ‘Eat Less Move More’
I received Bariatric Surgery after a 2 year weight management program, loosing 12 stone within the first 12 months.
7 years post Gastric Bypass I am maintaining a weight loss of 10 stone.
However I am still living with Obesity although I’m healthier because of my Bariatric Surgery Treatment.
Covid-19 brings new challenges and magnifies existing ones for people living with Obesity.
Globally millions of people are experiencing lack of control, depression and anxiety.
Accompanied by loneliness, insecurities and feelings of being helpless and a burden.
Unable to freely visit, shops, places of worship, enjoy a sports event, concert or theatre. Socialise with family and friends in a pub, restaurant, park or beach.
All because they fear Covid-19.
As a person living with Obesity, at 24 stone I experienced all of the above because of fear of judgement from society due to the body I lived in, so isolation is nothing new to me.
Reading the government’s website regarding Obesity and Covid-19 for me has highlighted the urgent need for access to treatments, support and education of the complexities of Obesity.
To eat healthy and be active will help anybody live a healthier life but what happens if you have spent years failing at controlling your weight with this strategy.
Statements quoting I’m “MORE LIKLEY TO DIE” only magnifies my already existing health concerns with no offer of any solution.
Our medical professionals are under huge pressure more than ever before. Facing their own personal concerns of covid-19 whilst dealing with professional ones.
There is no quick fix for a person living with Obesity. This is why I share my lived experience in the hope I can change the Narrative around Obesity and help Obesity to be seen through a different lens.
Since the start of this pandemic the world has adjusted in many ways. Maybe it’s time to be brave and adjust the prospective of Obesity and how it is treated.
In a number of countries Obesity has been recognised as a Disease, many global medical organisations recognise Obesity as a Disease including The Royal College of Physicians London.
I believe Obesity is a Complex, Multifactorial, Relapsing Disease. Not because of the recognition in other countries or because medical organisations have scientifically proven it to be, but because I’ve spent 40 years pre surgery feeling a failure at controlling my weight no matter how much I tried.
I know I have changed every aspect of my life over the last 7 years. Thanks to the treatment of Bariatric Surgery I use the tool of my stomach restriction to control my portion size, I am more educated to the nutritional value of food, seeing food as a fuel and not a comfort or punishment.
18 months of cognitive behaviour therapy I have faced my demons and learnt strategies on how to deal with life’s ups and downs instead of turning to food.
I have gained the support of like minded people who have shared my struggles, they pat me on the back, give me a shoulder to cry on and a boot up the backside when needed.
A combination of surgical intervention, mental health therapies and understanding and support is assisting me to live a happy and healthy life.
However I have regained 2 stone and I am mindful that due to Obesity being a Disease there are things happening within my body I cannot fully control by food and activity alone.
I live in fear of regaining weight and returning to 24 stone and now I have the fear of COVID-19.
To people who think Obesity is simply ‘Eat Less and Move More’ and that it is a persons choice.
I would simply ask do you really think 650 Million people worldwide choose to be in the body they live in?
“MORE LIKELY TO DIE”
At 24 stone I had health issues, I felt like I didn’t fit into society, I was stigmatised, judged & bullied by Society, Governments, Media and Myself.
2 stone regain and I’m fighting my biology every single day so I don’t fully travel back to judgement and ridicule.
Why would I Choose to go back to 24 stone?
I’m finally living life, achieving childhood dreams like fitting on a motorbike.
Like many others I have struggled throughout this pandemic, however I have come to realise in these uncertain times, I may not be able to control what is happening but I can control how I react to it.
Loosing 12 stone I became healthier, invisible, confident and seen as ‘NORMAL’
I spend my time being as active as possible within the restrictions we have all faced. I’ve been mindful of food keeping to set eating times, controlled portions and planned meals.
I have reduced my time on social media and only watch the news reports once a day. I only follow trusted government and NHS websites for information.
I occupy my mind by being outside in the garden pottering about, breathing fresh air and listening to the birds.
It’s ok not to be ok and I try and be kind to myself on difficult days.
I would ask for you to be kind to yourself and each other.
I wish you Good Health And please stay safe.
Angela Chesworth (Person living with obesity)