Formerly Fat, Latterly Lapsed 1

Paul Mason, born a subject of the British queen, has lived one of the saddest obesity stories of all time, and also one of the most frustrating. His biography has caused people to mutter, “How much help does one person deserve, anyway?” and brought to mind other questions such as, “How does a person, unable to stand or walk, obtain mind-boggling amounts of food?”

An excessive number of news stories have been published about Mason’s personal journey, as well as TV shows and documentaries. Anyone who cared to has been able to view nude photos of him at his most corpulent, inspiring such comments as “Exactly what body part is that?” Despite or perhaps because of this intensive coverage, the timelines of his weight fluctuations and personal life are sometimes confusing.

Apparently, the most he ever weighed was around 980 lbs. However, another source says his max was in the neighborhood of 80 stone, which would be well over a thousand pounds — 1,120 to be exact. Bear in mind, it is very difficult to weigh a large, mostly bedridden person.

The narrative

In 2001, at a relatively modest weight of around 600 pounds, Mason needed a hernia surgically repaired. The local fire department had to demolish a wall and use heavy machinery to extract his bed. Hospital authorities informed him that if he did not survive the surgery, neither the morgue nor other facilities would be able to deal with the situation. For cremation, his remains would be sent to a slaughterhouse.

The administrators even had to write up a special consent form. Twenty years later, Mason told a reporter that this had made a big impression, but in light of many subsequent events, it is hard to connect the dots.

At any rate, Mason remained at that hospital for around two years, and seems to have been a cheering influence, and even the life of the party at times. He was then moved to a retirement home where, Justin Heckert reported, health care workers would sneak him extra food. At 800 pounds, he was moved to a custom-built house. At this point, he was regarded by some as a public enemy who soaked up around $115,000 per year of the nation’s insufficient health care funds. Heckert wrote,

He spent his entire disposable income on food. At one point he gained more than 150 pounds in six months… He never even got a real night’s sleep — his life was a series of catnaps from which he would awake to eat, 24 hours a day…

Mason applied several times for gastric bypass surgery, and apparently, the government finally decided that it would be less expensive than continuing to cover the expenses of a pretty much inert mass.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All,”, 03/07/17
Image by DocChewbacca/CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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