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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 00:21 GMT
Struggling to beat the bulge
Suzanne Lucas
Suzanne Lucas has battled to keep her weight down
Government advisors, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, have launched guidance for health professionals, schools and local authorities to try and tackle the rising tide of obesity.

Suzanne Lucas, consumer representative on the guideline development group, talks to the BBC about her own battle with weight.

"I'm 5ft 3in (1.59m) and weigh 17 stone (108kg) which gives me a BMI of 41," says Suzanne who works as a nurse in Kent.

"It's fluctuated to some extent, but I began to gain weight in my late teens and then in my late 20s because of emotional issues."

Although as a health professional Suzanne was aware of the risks of being overweight, she has distanced herself from that knowledge when struggling with her own weight.

But her two-year experience in helping to develop the NICE guidelines on obesity has renewed her motivation, not only to lose weight, but to get fit and to look at the root cause of her weight problem.

"I think that when I get stressed I tend to comfort eat. Others might turn to alcohol or smoking but my default position is to eat food and I think I'm beginning to recognise that."

Gym sessions

Suzanne, who turned 50 this year and has 10-year old twin daughters, has joined a gym and has been working out with a personal trainer.

Just going on a diet was never going to be the answer
Suzanne Lucas

"In the last few months I've felt really motivated. My fitness levels are fantastic. It feels like I'm really on the road to getting fitter and it's making an impact on my weight and shape."

She hopes that uptake of the NICE guidance will improve support for people who want to lose weight, and that having the relevant organisations working together will make it easier for people to live healthier lives.

"People feel muddled and confused and not sure which, if any, of the messages are important to them.

"Just going on a diet was never going to be the answer, and that's really been put into context by these guidelines."

Psychological support

Suzanne says that over the years her confidence and social life has been affected by her weight, and stresses the importance of psychological support.

"I'm aware of the stigma of being overweight and it feels quite emotional to think about what people might be saying or thinking about me.

"I haven't gone out socially as much as I might have done."

"I'm sure that if I was slim, that when I am slimmer, I will have more choices.

Perhaps most importantly, Suzanne says her daughters and husband, who are all very active, are pleased that she is becoming fitter and will be able to enjoy activities with them.

"They will choose to go out and play on their bikes rather than sitting in front of the TV and they have been very supportive about me taking more physical activity," she says.




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