Paul Mason, Fat Kid

Formerly Fat, Latterly Lapsed 1” and the three subsequent posts trace the journey of the (previously) world’s fattest man from England to the USA and back to his homeland.

Paul Mason had not yet been authorized for gastric bypass surgery when in 2008 he attempted suicide by swallowing a large dose of codeine that should, by all rights, have been enough to do the job. Instead, he awoke the next morning with only a headache to show for it. The vast expanse of his gigantic body had absorbed the drug, apparently diluting it enough to keep it from doing real harm. He went into counseling, and for the first time revealed horrible details about his childhood.

So, here we look at one of the relevant subtopics, the Fat Kid Trope. In adulthood, many obese people recall similar traumas. In elementary school, the shy and awkward boy was picked on for being unusually tall, almost six feet at age nine. Journalist Justin Heckert wrote, “When he walked to class the other boys would climb on his back and try and tackle him to the ground.”

The young victim had friends, though — Pum and Joan, described by him as honest, normal schoolgirls who would patiently listen to his problems. He would meet with them by climbing up into a tree where they apparently lived. Yes, the friends were imaginary. The father, however, was all too real, and characterized by Heckert as an overweight “martinet who spent years in the army and military police.”

“I remember one Sunday mum cooking salad,” Mason said. “Mum had prepared a salad for all of us with some cold meat… He sat down and looked at the plate, and said, ‘What’s this rabbit food?’… He slammed his plate across the table and said, ‘I want my roast… She just started crying.”

Roy Mason, described by his son as “barbaric,” insisted that the boy and his two sisters use the same size plates as he did, and eat everything on them. In the old days, it was quite common to make children remain at the table until they ate what had been put in front of them, the despised food item growing colder, dryer, and more repulsive as the hours ticked by.

Roy had other uncivilized habits, like taking his young teen son to the videotape rental shop where he was forced to ask for porn movies by their embarrassing names. Then at home, Roy would make the boy sit and watch as he laughed derisively at the X-rated material.

But wait, it gets worse

This is Heckert again:

Mason, his parents, his two sisters, and an aunt lived in a middle-class house… There weren’t enough beds in the house, so he shared one with his aunt. He says she would come home drunk and climb in the bed with her breath on his neck and touch him, and that lasted for three years…

There have been many cases where adolescents, both girls and boys, have purposely cultivated body fat in order to discourage improper advances from adults of the same or the opposite sex.

In a 2015 interview, Mason told New York Times journalist Sarah Lyall the same ugly history:

He attributes his former obesity to a combination of things: a cruel father who beat and verbally abused him and his mother; a female relative who sexually abused him as a child for years; and classmates who ridiculed him to the point where school was a torment.

All in all, there was no comfort or safety to be found either at school or at home. Attention should probably be paid to these details, by parents who have no ambition to raise the next World’s Fattest Man.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How the World’s Heaviest Man Lost It All,”, 03/07/17
Source: “Losing 650 Pounds, and Preparing to Shed a Reminder of That Weight,”, 04/22/15
Image by Anderson Mancini/CC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FAQs and Media Requests: Click here…

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

Profiles: Kids Struggling with Obesity top bottom

The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


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.

Food & Health Resources