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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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63-stone teenager Georgia Davis needs help, not blame

She’ll probably die. If not today, next week or even within the next few months, odds are that 63-stone Georgia Davis will lose her life to obesity.

It’s a dirty word now, obesity. We’re supposed to be changing our language – again – because the word obese is hurtful... to the obese.

But language matters not a jot to 19-year-old Georgia, from South Wales. She is a teenager lost to overeating and lethargy. And she is terrified.

She is a young woman who has had to suffer the horror and humiliation of having part of her house demolished so that emergency services could winch her out and transfer her to hospital for treatment.

The operation, involving more than 40 firemen, medics and engineers, was denounced almost immediately by indignant commentators as extravagantly expensive, outrageously indulgent of a defiant, lazy, fat girl who just kept on eating.

Some of the high-minded (thin) intelligentsia called on the Government to take action against fat people in the same way it had taken action against smokers and troublesome drinkers. Fat people cost too much – and they are offensive.

But this is about more than money. Georgia’s tragedy is more than greed, more than sloth, more than inconsiderate abuse of a health system increasingly geared to treating only the healthy – and cheaply.

To lump her into a category of offenders against taste and decency is cruelly to ignore the reality of a condition likely to grow worse before it gets better.

Georgia Davis isn’t an ignorant woman. Common misconception is that fat people are stupid. Because they’re not beautiful. Because they have lost control of their lives. She knows what is happening to her. She’s resigned to being a subject of derision.

Four years ago, when only 15, she told reporters already taking an interest her as a freak show, rather than trying to find her help: “Some people choose heroin but I’ve chosen food and it’s killing me.”

She has an addiction. Like so many people who lose control, she has immersed herself in a blinding and destructive obsession. She has a mental health problem for which she is failing to find support or remedy.

One has to wonder whether the next indignant calls from the smugly self satisfied will be for government action against the mentally ill – who are bound to offend their sensibilities too.

We’ll see more young people balloon, as has Georgia Davis, in the not too distant future. Young people grasp at available comfort when they have no hope.

Some grasp at drugs, some turn to drink, some starve themselves. They can at least control their own demise.

A society that can point fingers, gawp and denounce them, demanding anyone with a deep problem be outlawed – instead of giving them hope – is a society of which we should be deeply ashamed.

On a more positive note, the obese do have one line of defence. There’ll be no outlawing of obesity so long as Eric Pickles is in Cabinet.

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