Monday, June 8, 1998 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Fighting inflation with the BBC
The Taking Shape campaign is featured on BBC Local Radio
Nigel Lawson was the man who made Britain boom in the 1980s. As Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer, he led the country through a period of high growth and low inflation.
The political cartoonists loved him because he was fat - 17 stone - an easy victim for their pens. But Nigel, now Lord, Lawson shocked the satirists and the nation by going on a hugely successful diet. So great was the response to his achievement, that his book, the Nigel Lawson Diet Book, about how he lost five stone, became a best seller.
"I was certainly a fat man. It came up gradually, and by the time I was Chancellor, certainly, that was the thing the cartoonists seized on; that was part of the image - no doubt about it," he recalls.
A rich meal
The Sunday Times political cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, caricatured Lawson many times. He had no scruples about portraying a very public figure in a very unflattering way.
Gerald Scarfe has many others in his collection. One, which is titled Fighting Inflation, has an overblown Lawson floating off into the distance.
Surprisingly, these very personal attacks had little effect on the Conservative politician.
"It didn't upset me," Lord Lawson says now. "Maybe it should have done because I think the cartoonists' exaggeration may have been slightly annoying, but I had far more annoying things than that to contend with so I didn't really worry about it."
A pressing problem
When he left frontline politics, however, the former Chancellor was determined to do something about his size.
"The trigger was nothing to do with vanity. It was because I found I suddenly had a bad knee which the doctor was able to deal with satisfactory - I'm glad to say. But what he did say was that 'your knees are having to bear to much weight and unless you reduce the amount of weight that your poor old knees are having to carry, then as you get older, this is going to come back and is going to get steadily worse'".
There was nothing very unusual in his diet. He realised his basic problem was over-consumption. He cut down and he cut out a lot of dairy products and other fatty foods. He also started to drink fizzy diet drinks instead of alcohol.
Lord Lawson claims it was relatively easy: "What I am saying, very simply, is that if, for whatever reason of your own choosing, you wish to lose weight, here is what one man found to be a very effective and relatively painless way of doing it."
You can also call the BBC ActionLine on 0800 888806. There is a free pack of very useful information, which includes tips on how to establish a healthier eating pattern, some specially developed recipes and a free fridge magnet to help you stay on course.
Some facts and figures about obesity: