Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Family in need of serious intervention

Philip Chawner, 53, and his 57-year-old wife Audrey weigh 24st. Their daughter Emma, 19, weighs 17st, while her older sister Samantha, 21, weighs 18st.

(Angela's note: A stone equals 1.40 pounds; two stones are 2.80 pounds, and so on. So Philip and Audrey apparently weigh 336 pounds each. Emma weighs 238 pounds, and Samantha weighs 294 pounds. That's 1,162 pounds all together. That's a whole lotta "chips" going down right there!)

Family who are 'too fat to work' say £22,000 worth of benefits is not enough

A family of four with a combined weight of 83 stone say they are "too fat to work" and need more than the £22,000 (31,955.17 in US dollars, whoa, the British pound is pounding the mess out of the dollar!)they currently receive in benefits.
The Chawners, haven't worked in 11 years, claim their weight is a hereditary condition and the money they receive is insufficient to live on.

Mr Chawner said: "What we get barely covers the bills and puts food on the table. It's not our fault we can't work. We deserve more."

The family claim to spend £50 ($72.6322 US) a week on food and consume 3,000 calories each a day. The recommended maximum intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.

"We have cereal for breakfast, bacon butties for lunch and microwave pies with mashed potato or chips for dinner," Mrs Chawner told Closer magazine.

"All that healthy food, like fruit and veg, is too expensive. We're fat because it's in our genes. Our whole family is overweight," she added.

Each week, Mr and Mrs Chawner, who have been married for 23 years, receive £177 in income support and incapacity benefit. Mrs Chawner is paid an extra £330-a-month disability allowance for epilepsy and asthma, both a result of being overweight.

Mr Chawner gets £71 a month after developing Type 2 diabetes because of his size. He was on a waiting list for a gastric band last year, but a heart condition made the operation unsuitable. Their daughter Samantha receives £84 in Jobseekers' Allowance each fortnight while Emma, who is training to be a hairdresser, gets £58 every two weeks under a hardship fund for low-income students.

Emma, said: "I'm a student and don't have time to exercise" she said "We all want to lose weight to stop the abuse we get in the street, but we don't know how."

I've never read a story that screamed "FOOD ADDICTS IN NEED OF INTERVENTION, TREATMENT AND RECOVERY!" more than this one. It makes me sad. Yes, I was once too obese to work. I had all kinds of medical issues related to my weight. And most, but not all, have cleared up since losing 200 pounds. My other medical problems are caused by permanent damage done to my body through morbid obesity, which in itself is caused by being addicted to eating.

About three months ago, I was diagnosed with something called diffuse arthritis, which is a not-so-common form of degenerative arthritis. Calcium has built up along both sides of my lower vertebrae, and bone spurs have developed on my spine. There's no cure, and surgery is too risky. I just have to live with it. But even living with pain for the rest of my life is not going to stop me from being a productive member of this society.

My intention is to recover from food addiction, get a weight that is healthy for me (don't know what that is yet, and I don't worry about it), and become an increasingly productive member of society. I do not expect the government to continuously pay me for being sick. Right now, I do have a lot of medical risks that do interfere with my ability to work. But I look at this as temporary. I can't and won't become dependent of disability for a living. I'm grateful that I have worked enough to pay into the system, thank you God, and that my basic needs are being met right now.

But the issue is food addiction, as I see it. Obviously, the parents have passed on their eating habits to their daughters. Is there an "Intervention" type show over on the BBC like there is on A&E channel here? Can anyone get this family into some kind of treatment program so they can have productive, fulfilling lives? It's obvious that they are suffering from a problem that is far beyond their ability to control. Addiction of any type is serious, especially when the substance is food. We all have to eat, and in the Western world, food is literally everywhere--on television, the Internet, magazines, billboards, neon signs. Don't believe it? If you are a boomer, finish this sentence: "You deserve a ___ ___." Or, "Have it___ ___." I don't know what the current fast food ads are like because I refuse to watch them. Yes, I'm not neutral to them yet. So I have to protect my recovery by keeping the T.V. off and clicking away from food ads on the Internet.

So when food is so prevalent that we can literally collect pennies to get a 99 cents fix at Mickey D.'s (short of McDonald's, for those of you outside of the U.S.), people have an open highway leading to food addiction. That addiction "ON" switch can be easily triggered in the brain, and it will run amok very, very quickly. Question: How many of you have ever bought bags of sweets from Dollar Tree or the 99 Cents store and felt elated because you got ALL that "good stuff" for cheap? If you are a food addict (and you don't have to be obese or even overweight to be one), you probably felt like you had found a leprechaun's gold pot at the end of the rainbow. That is, until you devoured all of the shopping bags of candy, cookies and other stuff by the end of the night and you have a splitting sugar hangover and horrendous upset stomach. But that's ok, right? It sure tasted good, didn't it? You can't WAIT to go back and buy some more! Addiction, my friend, addiction!

The Chawner family may just have a genetic predisposition for obesity. My family does too, at least the women do. But it's not hopeless, and just like the Chawners (if they ever come to believe it), I'm not helpless. There is recovery for food addiction and its outward symptom, morbid obesity. I pray that they find it, soon.

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