Half Ton Son

I watched a very disturbing documentary on UK TV last night – Half Ton Son. The 19 year old in question actually weighed about 840 pounds (60 stone, 380 kg) which is somewhat below the half ton mark. Nonetheless – he was devastatingly obese.

I don't normally watch that type of programme because I find them depressing and voyeuristic, but I'm trying to develop some insight into the causes of obesity so I forced myself to sit through it. (I couldn't watch the scenes of surgery later on though, and skipped them.)

The teenager could hardly move and was unable to wash himself properly so his mother had to look after him as if he was a giant baby. Early in the programme, I found myself getting really angry with her as she fed her son a daily diet of about 8,000 calories worth of junk food. She kept saying how much she loved him, but she was colluding with him in his awful slide into near-lethal obesity. I was shouting at the TV set – “Stop feeding him burgers, woman!”

Later on, it was revealed that the woman's first son had died of a brain tumour when he was 19 months old. She never really got over it and when her second son came along she doted on him. He was a fussy eater and she didn't like to make him eat what he didn't like, so he started his life on junk food, and just ate more and more of it as he got older. She knew that she was making him unwell, but she couldn't help herself. Even when the young man was getting ready to go into hospital for surgery, she was still feeding him giant plates of burgers and fries. My attitude began to soften, and I just felt sorry for them, trapped in their horrible cycle of co-dependency

After several operations and lengthy stays in hospital the teenager had lost half his original body weight. When he returned home however, his mother was still overfeeding him. In the end, the young man realised that the unhealthy relationship between himself and his mother was the root of his problems and he resolved to leave home. I fear that he might not be able to cope, because at the age of 19 he was used to being treated as a baby, and had never done anything for himself. I don't know how he is doing now, but I wish him all the best.

It just goes to show – knowing that you have a problem, and actually doing something about it are two different things. I've allowed my weight to rise by 40-50 pounds three times now, but luckily a voice in my head each time said “Okay, that's enough!” and I started to change my habits. I can't imagine not having an inner voice screaming at me to stop after a couple of hundred pounds or so…

Perhaps it is time to listen to the inner voice? I know that I deserve to be a healthy size, so does that 19 year old, and so do you. Inside every fat person, there is a slim, lithe body waiting to emerge. Good luck exposing yours!

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