Sunday 27 May 2012

Pains, Cranes and Automobiles

"19 year old female, stuck in house"

This week saw an article in the news about how 19 year old Georgia Davis, who weighs 63 stone, needed to have part of her house dismantled so she could get out and to a hospital. A team of 40+ people including doctors, paramedics, fire crews, police, council workers and scaffolders worked hard to 'free' her from her house. She had been confined to her bedroom for a number of months, due to her size, and it took the team 10 hours to cut a 10ft by 10ft hole in her 1st floor bedroom wall. She was then lifted by crane on to a purposely build ramp and onto a specially strengthened stretcher and into the reinforced bariatric ambulance. Weighing the same as a young elephant at just 19 she has diabetes, kidney disease, spinal problems, multi-organ failure and respiratory problems. This is a topic I have discussed at length before in Fat people, Stairs and Backs & Obesity: The cause, the cost, the solution due to my experience craning someone out of a window, but seeing these articles just highlights how little is being done. 

Georgia's obesity isn't just through being greedy and lazy; it would be naive to assume that. There are many other factors at play, none more so than her profound psychological problems. In her defence, she had a miserable childhood. She was the carer of her disabled mother and her father died when she was young. This doesn't excuse what spiralled and what has continued to do so unchecked but it goes some way to explaining where it began. She needs continual support, not just sporadic intervention, which she had when sent to 'fat camp' in the USA. What she needs is the constant support and treatment from a multidisciplinary team including doctors, dieticians, psychologists and counsellors. Yes, all this costs money in the short term but surely we are passed the point of prevention. Cure is the only way to stop the spiralling costs of her care. 

Once labelled 'Britain's Fattest Teen', Georgia had more help than most people get. She lost 15 stone in the USA, all paid for and began to look like she had turned the corner. Unfortunately, on her return, her first meal given by her 'loving' mother was a chip supper. Since then, her weight has ballooned to almost twice her pre-USA weight, to the point of having to be cut out of her house. Then again, with a daily diet of up to 13,000 calories are you surprised?! I'm not. Despite her psychological issues, this eating to excess has been allowed to continue, encouraged and supported. She can only eat what she is given and the blame lies solely with her mother. This didn't just happen overnight, it has taken a short lifetime. It isn't as if no one saw it coming either. She was over 20 stone aged 12, she was on the at-risk register at 13 but threatened to harm herself if social workers took her away from her family. She was removed from the register. At 14 she was 29 stone. There were chances to intervene. There were chances to stop it. Apparently threatening self-harm is reason enough to stop being 'at risk'.  She needed help and was let down by 'the system'. Now an adult, she is no one's responsibility. To be 33 stone at the age of 15 is more than comfort eating and there should be protocols in place to stop cases like this to continue. It is child abuse, plain and simple. How can you allow your daughter to put on 40 stone in 3 years?! To fuel the feeding frenzy her mother sold interviews about her extreme obesity and this has been tolerated because in our 'freak obsessed' society, her body was a money spinner, rather than something to be ashamed about. Her mother needs to be held accountable and charged for the abuse she has caused. That has to be the deterrent. I see little difference between this and beating children. The punishment should be the same. She was let down by the adults there to look after her. That is the bottom line.

Childhood is where it all starts. Nearly a quarter (23.1%) of children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school, this increases to over a third (33.4%) by the time they finish. Health promotion is fraught with difficulties in school-aged children as poor management of obesity can result in life-long unhealthy eating habits and avoidance of medical help. The NHS has been forced to focus on treatment of illness rather than prevention due to increasing demands and costs. Obesity costs the economy not only in health care but also in sick days, workplace injuries and disability pay. The cost to the NHS is in excess of £500 million a year and to the tax payer, a cost of £2 billion in lost productivity. When will a stand be made? When will prevention be the focus? When will people see that paying for reinforced beds and ambulances, knocking walls down and sending fat kids to America is a short term fix for an ever growing problem (quite literally!)? Without the procedures in place to monitor these children the same will happen time and time again. It is estimated that by 2030, half the population will be dangerously overweight and at risk of an early grave thanks to diabetes, cancer, heart disease and pretty much any other illness you care to mention.

Clearly something has to be done. The tax payer will foot the bill for the scaffolders, the repairs to the house, the fire brigade, the doctors, the police, the ambulance service, the hospital fees, the treatment, the surgeries, the medication, the after care, the counselling, the calorie controlled diet, the benefits, the disability allowance and everything else she will need.  Sadly I have no faith that, even with all the recent costs incurred, anything will change. I hope I'm wrong, but I doubt it.

Here are some other articles about the extraction from her house:


  1. Excellent post. Weight problems are always more complex than "calories in" vs "calories out" and we really need to examine the emotional messages behind food & patterns of "distressed eating" as they call it.

  2. Surely prevention is always better than the cure ?!

  3. Absolutely excellent post. I agree completely. it is child abuse 100%. I feel so sorry for that poor girl, which i know wasnt the only point of your post but i really do.


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