50 stone man still trapped by condition

ON BAD days, Paul Mason could eat up to 20,000 calories a day – more than six times the recommended amount for a man.He believes a traumatic incident triggered off his obesity, sending his weight soaring over the years and seeing him admitted to hospital on several occasions.

ON BAD days, Paul Mason could eat up to 20,000 calories a day – more than six times the recommended amount for a man.

He believes a traumatic incident triggered off his obesity, sending his weight soaring over the years and seeing him admitted to hospital on several occasions.

Lying in his hospital bed he is determined to do something about his situation, which has left him lonely, isolated and depressed.

His plight was first highlighted in July last year when a wall had to be removed from his house so he could be taken to hospital for an operation.

Since December when he was again admitted to hospital he has lost just over eight stone and at around 46 stone he should soon be able to go to a specialist centre in Leeds for a stomach stapling operation.

He said he first went to the doctors in 1986 when he was 26 years old and weighed 25 stone.

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Paul said: "I went to the doctor to ask about a stomach stapling operation then, but the GP said to me to go on a diet rather than have surgery."

But his weight continued to rise. He said: "I spent my first period in hospital because of weight problems in 1992.

"I thought I was about 30 stone but I did not realise how heavy I was.

"When they weighed me I was 45 stone – I could not believe it."

When Paul went shopping he bought food for proper meals but would always buy extras as well.

He said: "It is like alcohol to an alcoholic – I would spend about £30 a week on chocolate.

"You just need to know that there is something else there."

"I would eat takeaways and deliberately save half so that I could eat some when I got up in the middle of the night."

One thing he would like to see is more help for people with obesity in Britain.

He said: "There are clinics to help bulimics and anorexics but nothing for obesity.

"Obesity is treated as a disease in America but it does not seem to be over here."

The former Royal Mail worker is keen to tell people about his condition no matter how hard.

He described a time when he was sitting with his mother on Bourne Bridge enduring once more the taunts from a group of young boys.

He said: "Instead of telling them where to go I just talked to them and told them all about it.

"They all seemed quite interested about it and when they walked away they had learned something."

Paul said his family has always been a huge support to him. He is extremely close to his mum Janet, 70, and when his father Roy died of a blood clot aged 56 he moved back home to look after her.

For the near future though Paul knows that he cannot go home and social services are making a concerted effort to find him a place possibly in a care home for a while so he can be properly looked after.

Since he has been in hospital things have improved for Paul. He has a nutritionist who has taken his calorie intake down to 2,800 a day, just slightly above the average recommended intake for a man.

He is also having physiotherapy and has a wheeled walking frame to help him walk around.

This is not the first time he has been in hospital but he is sincerely hoping that it will be his last.

He said: "I realised that something had to happen and I did not want to leave this place in a box.

"People remind me that I am only 42, although sometimes I feel a lot older because I can't do certain things.

"But then I think that people are living into their 80's and I could still have another 40 years of a good life ahead of me.

"I don't want to always have to rely on social services."

N. Paul wants to know if he is the heaviest man in Ipswich. What do you think about his story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or click on to the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

WHAT DOES 20,000 calories mean?

68 Mars Bars a day (294 calories)

100 bananas a day (200 calories)

90 Danish Pastries (220 calories)

95 doughnuts (210 calories)

81 Hamburgers (245 calories)

Information source – www.caloriecountercharts.com

Obesity factfile

Obesity is on the rise in England and one in five adults are obese.

In 1998 it accounted for 18 million days sickness absence and 30,000 premature deaths.

Treating obesity costs the NHS at least £500million a year bit wider costs to the economy through low productivity and lost output could be a further £2billion each year.

Obesity puts people at risk of diseases including heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and stroke.

Some causes of obesity are genetic – it tends to run in families although families share the same diet and lifestyle habits.

Psychological problems can also be a cause as some people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness and anger.

WEBLINKS: www.annecollins.com/obesity/health-warning.htm

www.nationalobesityforum.org.uk

www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier

www.nao.gov.uk

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