30-stone woman demands taxpayer-funded gastric op
15th March 2013
obesityA woman who weighs 30-stone and ironically married to a qualified fitness instructor, has demanded gastric surgery on the NHS after claiming she is too big to work and cannot lose the weight. Wendy Phillips, a 46-year old mother-of-three from Barnstaple, Devon, is currently a size 36 and says her large frame has induced back problems that have forced her to quit her job at a care home. Her 5ft 2in height and 30-stone weight means that Wendy’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is an incredible 76.8. A BMI reading of between 30 and 40 is deemed obese and anything over 40 is described as ‘very obese’ – posing life-threatening health risks such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many more. A ‘healthy’ BMI range is between 18 and 25, which further highlights the seriousness of the situation. She complains she cannot shed the weight by herself and says she needs a £15,000 gastric op – which will ultimately come out of taxpayer’s pockets. This is on top of the £30,000 that she has already claimed over the previous five years from sickness benefits. Wendy reached her current weight after leading a poor diet for 20 years that primarily comprised of junk food. The NHS unfortunately has rejected her pleas for a weight loss operation and understandably wants concrete evidence she will change her lifestyle indefinitely. Wendy’s husband Sean is now a nurse, but still goes to the gym three times a week and even completed a marathon last year. It seems his guidance has not had any effect. She says: “Sean’s advised me about nutrition and exercise, but I don’t have as much willpower as him. I’m sensitive about my weight so he doesn’t push me”, adding it is ‘unfair’ she has been denied a gastric op because she hasn’t proved she is willing to alter her lifestyle. She added: “I know I’ve been stupid – now I’m too fat to work. I was greedy and ate too many sausage rolls. But it’s too late for me to help myself now. I try to diet, but exercise is painful. I worked and paid my taxes for 20 years, so I didn’t expect the NHS to shut the door in my face. If they don’t help me, I’ll die. Taxpayers see fat people as a burden, but alcoholics get help. I’m being treated unfairly.” Before falling pregnant at the age of 21 to a different partner, Wendy was already a size 16 and subsequently gained six stone through her pregnancy – reaching a size 24 and weighing 19-stone. She comments: “I’d eat a cheese sandwich for brunch with a packet of crisps, and have a steak and kidney pie with mash for dinner. I’d snack on a large wedge of cheese. I thought it was OK because I was eating for two.” Reminiscing on meeting her current husband Sean, she says: “He was so fit – 6ft 4 and 16-stone – and worked out every day, but he told me he’d weighed 25-stone before losing 9-stone. He didn’t judge me – he just liked me for me.” Incredibly though, Wendy has only ever attempted to stick to a diet once – for her wedding. Proving that weight loss can be achieved with the correct lifestyle, Wendy lost three stone to be able to fit into her wedding dress.  Old habits were resumed though and Wendy’s battle with her weight continued. She says: “I lost 3st by cutting down on carbs and going for walks but despite dropping to 22st and my back pain improving, I was 28st again within a year. Sean was disappointed, but accepted I didn’t have the willpower. People would look at me disapprovingly in the street, but Sean told me to ignore them. I’m ashamed I haven’t been able to work and I’ve claimed so much in benefits. I wish I could stick to diets, but some people just don’t have self- control – it’s not our fault.” Even though Wendy seems certain that weight loss surgery is the only option, GP Dr. Sarah Jarvis says: “If Wendy stuck to a healthy diet she could lose weight – surgery isn’t her only option. Patients who are unable to lose weight prior to gastric surgery will be less successful afterwards anyway.” In addition, there are numerous potential dangers of gastric surgery that Wendy should consider first.