Entries in Weight Loss (171)


Texas Man’s 300 Pound Weight Loss Success Story

Image credit: Courtesy Brian Beck(NEW YORK) -- Brian Beck, of Plano, Texas, tipped the scales at 487 pounds, and has been on the heavier side of the scale for most of his life.

Even as a baby, his doctor put him on skim milk because he was gaining weight too rapidly.  He was an active child, but continued to gain weight, and in college, put on the “freshman 50″ rather than the more common “freshman 15.”

“I was hanging out with all the football players, so I was eating like the football players, but I wasn’t working out like the football players,” Beck said.

By the time he graduated college, the sports medicine major weighed over 400 pounds, and found a job in radio as a talk show host, where he could hide behind his voice.

“No one could see me,” he said.  “I was able to have a career entertaining without having to be seen.”

But by 2003, Beck’s weight, which had already taken a toll on his personal life, also began to affect his career.

“I had an interview in Orlando…and I went to get a ticket and they said ‘You need two…You take up a row, basically.’  And I didn’t have the money to pay for that second ticket.  I didn’t go on the interview, and that hurt,” Beck said.

That’s when he decided to have gastric bypass surgery.  He lost nearly 200 pounds, dropping from a size 62 waist to a size 46 waist, but he didn’t change his eating habits, and gained nearly all the weight back.

After getting married in 2007, he got his second wakeup call.

“I’m on the phone with my wife and I’m like, ‘I can’t live like this anymore.’  I remember saying, ‘What do I have control over in my life? … I can eat better, and change my health.’”

Slowly, Beck started to reclaim his life.  First, just walking his dogs around the block, and then jogging and lifting weights.  He cut out processed foods from his diet and opted for fresh meat, fish, veggies and fruit instead.  Over two and a half years, the pounds melted away.

Now, the 40-year-old weighs in at about 185 pounds.  He couldn’t be happier, he said, with his 300-pound-weight loss and his life.

“I’m actually in better shape than I was in high school.  I don’t think too many people can say that,” he said.  “I couldn’t be happier.  I never knew life could be this good.  I can actually be on a plane now by myself, in one seat.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


After Losing 100 Pounds, California Man Gets New Heart

Courtesy UCSF(NEW YORK) -- Suitulaga Hunkin was just 26 years old when he learned that his heart had worn out.  

He went to the hospital believing he was suffering from heat stroke, only to end up being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.  His heart had been stretched out and weakened, and, unlike a rubber band, it could not simply snap back into shape.

Weighing in at approximately 300 lbs, Hunkin knew he was technically overweight but thought he had been relatively healthy.  He did regular weightlifting and spent 10 hours a day working as a plumber.  Even after his diagnosis, Hunkin said that because he was young and naive, he didn't understand just how serious the situation was.

"It was crazy.  I was in denial.  I was like, 'Oh, you know that this is nothing.  This'll be all right,'" said Hunkin.

Once he was diagnosed, Hunkin had to quit his job and could no longer work out.  He spent his days stuck at home and quickly began to gain weight, reaching 350 lbs.

"Being in heart failure, it sucks," said Hunkin.  "You walk fifteen steps and feel like your heart was going to explode."

Hunkin, a father of four who is of Samoan descent, said that his upbringing included plenty of high-calorie, salty meals.  He had always begun each day with a hearty breakfast.

In the years after his diagnosis, Hunkin's health continued to deteriorate.  After he had a small stroke, doctors found that Hunkin's heart was so damaged he needed a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device), a small mechanical pump to help his weakened heart.

While the machine bought him time, it did not cure him.  A year after the device was implanted, it had to be replaced due to mechanical problems.  It was then that Hunkin's cardiologist Teresa De Marco, the director of Advanced Heart Failure Program at UC San Francisco Medical Center, sat him down and told him that unless he got into shape and had a heart transplant, he would not survive.

"She said, 'You're killing yourself,'" recalled Hunkin.  "[She said,] 'Do it for your wife, do it for your kids, but do it for yourself.'"

Since there wasn't a transplant doctor at the UC San Francisco Medical Center at the time, De Marco called different transplant centers to see if anyone would take him.  No one would agree to operate on him because of his weight.

There are many reasons for an obese patient to be ineligible for a transplant.  The operation is taxing on the body, and finding a matching heart is nearly impossible for obese patients.

"Obese patients, it's difficult to find a match," said De Marco.  "The metabolic demands are higher when you're obese and it's hard to find donors who are within that range."

In order for Hunkin to be added to the transplant list, his doctors said he needed to get his weight down to 250-270 lbs with a BMI of approximately 35.

With the support of his doctors, Hunkin began to change his eating habits and to walk.  He started with 10 minutes a day, up and down an alley near his house.

"It's like an addiction when you lose weight.  The first 10 pounds come off, before I knew it I'm down 30-40 lbs," said Hunkin.  "We had a new heart surgeon at UCSF, [Georg Wieselthaler].  He said, 'You know, I'm really happy you're losing the weight.  You lose 20 more pounds and I'll transplant you.'"

Wieselthaler, the program director for cardiac transplantation at UCSF Medical Center, said that Hunkin's positive reaction to the VAD pump meant he was able to become more and more active, which helped him lose the weight.

"All of sudden you have exercise capabilities you didn't have before.  To me that's an essential part of the whole story," said Wieselthaler.  "Without that pump, he never would have been to do that."

After losing over 100 lbs to reach a weight of approximately 250, Hunkin was added to the transplant list and received a new heart on Aug. 8, 2012.

"I'll never forget that day.  'They said, 'We're putting you on the list,'" recalled Hunkin.  "I dropped the phone."

After his surgery, Hunkin recovered quickly and was even able to walk a few steps around his room the day after his surgery.

Wieselthaler said he believes that with the new heart and a carefully regulated drug regimen, Hunkin has an excellent prognosis.

"We learned a lot over the last 30-40 years with drugs that can help suppress rejection of certain organs," said Wieselthaler.  "We tailor immune suppressant medication for each patient.  By doing so, we have excellent long term results."

In the six months since his operation, Hunkin has kept the weight off by walking and doing small toning exercises multiple times per week.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


How Kristin Cavallari Lost Baby Weight

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Kristin Cavallari showed off her super trim post-baby body earlier this week and shared her secret of how she got back into shape so quickly: a healthful diet and no alcohol.

“I’m like a freak about eating healthy,” the 26-year-old former Hills star told Us Weekly at the launch of her new jewelry collection for Glamboutique in Los Angeles.  “I’ve always been a really healthy eater.  I think when I got pregnant I took it up another notch, just because I was so aware of what I was putting in my body."

"I’ve just maintained that since I’ve had Cam," she continued. "And honestly, I rarely drink alcohol, which helps too.  It’s just empty calories.”

Cavallari and fiance Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback, welcomed their first child, son Camden, in August 2012.

The new mom admits she doesn’t completely deprive herself, giving into occasional sweets, and even fast food.

“I have a huge sweet tooth,  but I’ll get dark chocolate with caramel,” she explained.  “Or there’s an ice cream at Whole Foods called Coconut Bliss, which is made out of coconut milk, and so, to me, that’s not really cheating.”

As for the fast food, she shared, “There’s a place called Portillo’s in Chicago, which is fast food [and] has the best burgers.  So we’ve had that I think twice this year.  But that’s a lot of fast food for me in that short amount of time.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


You Are ‘When’ You Eat, New Study Finds

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In dieting, like comedy, timing is everything.  That’s the conclusion of a new Spanish study that suggests that when you eat might be just as important as what you eat.

During the first few weeks of the 20-week study, run by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in collaboration with Tufts University and the University of Murcia, all 420 subjects lost weight at about the same rate.  But starting around week five, weight loss for dieters who ate their main meal after 3 p.m. began to stall and remained sluggish for the duration of the study.  In the end, they lost 22 percent less weight than dieters who ate the bulk of their calories earlier in the day.

The results left researchers scratching their heads.  All the subjects ate and burned off about the same number of calories.  They all followed a Mediterranean-style diet consisting of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats such as olive oil, and consumed about 40 percent of their daily calories at lunch.  They all slept approximately the same number of hours each night and, when tested, their appetite and hunger hormone levels were comparable.  Even their genetics were similar.

The late-in-the-day eaters did tend to be breakfast-skippers, and they showed a higher level of insulin resistance.  But according to the researchers, these differences alone didn’t explain the variability in weight loss between late and early eaters -- and neither of these factors was correlated with the amount of an individual’s weight loss.

The researchers’ best guess is that that eating later in the day messes with the body’s internal clock system, known as circadian rhythms, and this might somehow have an adverse effect on metabolism.

Frank Sheer, one of the study’s co-authors and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, explained it this way:

“The circadian system is made up of a master clock in the brain and peripheral clocks in most cells throughout the body.  Normally, the master clock synchronizes all peripheral clocks, similar to the conductor of an orchestra.  When meal timing is abnormal this leads to de-synchronization between these different clocks, resulting in a cacophony.”

Over the years, many popular fad diets have sung the virtues of early-in-the-day eating patterns.  But David Just, co-director of Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition, said the results of this latest study notwithstanding, such advice may not apply to Americans.

“Spaniards tend to eat their largest meal midday,” he said.  “Starting toward the end of the eighteenth century, as more people in this country began taking factory jobs that didn’t allow them to pop home for lunch, Americans began shifting their main meal toward the end of the day, which is how most of us still tend to manage our eating.”

Just said he suspects that Americans who eat less in the first part of the day simply eat more later on to compensate.  His own studies with school-age children show that kids who eat an early lunch tend to skip breakfast and have large afternoon snacks.  He’s also found that kids who eat a late lunch often enjoy a light afternoon snack but make up the calories by having an enormous dinner.  The kids who ate the fewest calories in his studies regularly had their lunch right around noon.

Sheer also said he believed it’s too soon to relate his study’s outcomes to the American lifestyle.  But he does think the timing of eating could be an important part of weight loss.

“These new findings may help in developing new strategies to further optimize weight-loss therapies in the battle against obesity,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Thirteen Secrets the Weight Loss Pros Don’t Tell You

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ABC's Good Morning America has teamed up with Reader’s Digest on a special series, “13 Things Experts Won’t Tell You.”

This month, Reader’s Digest unveils the secrets weight loss professionals won’t tell you, like how to maximize your workouts, what may be holding you back from losing weight and how to get the most bang for your buck.

1. Do not arrive at a training session in the following states: a. on an empty stomach, b. coming off a cold/stomach bug, or c. on four hours’ sleep.  It wastes your time and a personal trainer’s when your body isn’t fueled, hydrated and ready to work.

2. If you find your workouts are getting a little stale, a trainer is a great way to put some pep in your push-ups.  If you can’t afford one, get some friends together for a small group session.  They cost less per person -- and working out with friends is proven to improve your commitment and overall weight loss.

3. To kick start your metabolism, opt for intervals.  In a recent study, women who did 20 minutes of cycling sprints lost three times as much fat as those who cycled slowly and steadily for 40 minutes.

4. When you hit the point where you think you can’t go on, imagine you have a trainer right next to you, cheering for you.  Studies show that actively encouraging yourself improves outcomes.

5. You can do OK at the drive thru.  There are now some reasonable options if you look for them.  Stay away from anything with the word “crispy,” steer clear of all mayo-heavy sauces (use mustard instead) and stick to no-fat dressing.

6. Nibble on the move.  If you are shopping and fading from hunger, avoid settling in at the food court and, instead, nibble your way through a shopping marathon.  Pick up a snack, such as a hot pretzel, a small bag of roasted nuts from a kiosk or even a chicken taco and nibble on the move.  Portable meals can still weigh you down, so check calorie counts on your mobile phone before you go.

7. Douse your afternoon slump or hunger pangs with water.  The energy drop that hits in afternoon is likely a combination of perfectly natural factors -- the results of a light lunch, mild dehydration, a momentarily lack of iron or a crash off that coffee you had at the late-morning meeting.  Before wandering to the cafeteria or fridge, start your recovery with a tall glass of water, which boosts your blood flow and, as a side benefit, makes you feel full.

8. It’s hard to win against a cookie.  While food is not addictive the way cocaine or alcohol is, there are some uncanny similarities.  When subjects at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia were shown the names of foods they liked, the parts of the brain that got excited were the same parts activated in drug addicts.

9. Your bedroom, not the kitchen, might be making you fat.  Sleep deprivation upsets our hormone balance, triggering both a decrease in the hormone leptin (which helps you feel full) and an increase of the hormone ghrelin (which triggers hunger).  As a result, we think we’re hungry even though we aren’t -- and so we eat.  Sleep may be the cheapest and easiest obesity treatment there is.

10. Your weight really is genetic.  When scientists first discovered a gene in certain chubby mice, they called it simply the fatso gene.  Turns out, people with two copies of the gene were 40 percent more likely to have diabetes and 60 percent more likely to be obese than those without it.  Those with only one copy of the gene weighed more too.  But your “destiny” is no excuse.

11. Ear infections can taint your taste buds.  In one study of more than 6,000 people, researchers found that people over age 35 who had suffered several ear infections had almost double the chance of being obese.  Why?  These infections can damage a taste nerve running through the middle ear.  When researchers found the at former ear-infection patients were a little more likely to love sweets and fatty foods, they theorized that the damaged nerve might cause them to have a higher threshold for sensing sweetness and fattiness.

12. Fat might be your mom’s fault.  A growing body of science suggests that sugary and fatty foods consumed even before you’re born can mess with your weight.

13. At dinner, make yourself useful serving people and cleaning up.  It gets you away from your plate, but still makes you a vital part of the meal.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Coca-Cola Sugar Hiccup: Soda Giant on the Defense

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coca-Cola has been a staple in American lives for more than 100 years and its iconic advertisements have shaped the soda industry from its 1930s depictions of jolly ol' St. Nick to its recent polar bear commercials.

One from 1961 even advertised Coke as a diet beverage -- "There's no waistline worry with Coke, you know," the pitchwoman said.

Most studies and experts agree that claim is not true -- but now, a new ad from Coke claims its low-sugar and sugar-free beverages can to be part of the obesity solution. The two-minute commercial was set to air on national cable news stations starting Monday night.

It may be the company's reaction to a full-fledged assault on sugary sodas that has included school bans, proposed taxes and an often-mocked New York City effort to eliminate the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces.

Coca-Cola said in a news release that the goal was to "highlight some of the specifics behind the company's ongoing commitment to deliver more beverage choices, including low- and no-calorie options, and to clearly communicate the calorie content of all its products."

The commercial, called "Coming Together," included facts about the company's initiatives, noting, "Of over 650 beverages, we now offer 180 ... low- and no-calorie choices."

The average American drinks 45 gallons of sugary soft drinks a year, equivalent to one-and-a-half barrels of soda pop. In fact, sugary sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. Even the smallest can, the eight-ounce size, has the equivalent of approximately six sugar cubes. The 20-ounce size has around 14 sugar cubes and the 7-Eleven "Super Big Gulp" more than 30.

Critics argue they are not ordinary calories, either, but are empty of nutrition and don't tell the body it is full.

"With beverages, we'll drink the calories and then consume more foods on top of those calories," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), told ABC News. "When the body eats a steak or asparagus, it senses that it consumed calories and then will reduce its caloric intake later in the day. It doesn't happen with soft drinks."

CSPI published a video that went viral just this past fall called "The Real Bears," which graphically depicted the health effects of over-consumption of sugary beverages.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage company, also promotes exercise programs to work off what you drink. A second new spot debuting Wednesday during American Idol, called "Be OK," according to a news release, will make "it perfectly clear right up front that a can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories. This spot also encourages people to have some fun burning those calories off."

Coca-Cola declined comment to ABC News on the commercials but referred reporters to Russell Pate, a professor with Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. He told ABC News that the changes made by the food and beverage industry should be "supported, and more improvement is to be encouraged."

He added that a major origin of the obesity problem is "declining physical activity over recent decades."

"I think we have millions of Americans trying to eat down to their level of inactivity, and it's not working well," Pate said. "I believe strongly we will have to increase the physical activity level of our population if we want to overcome the obesity epidemic that we are currently challenged by."

Coke is not the only soda company getting heat. Pepsi hired Beyonce for undisclosed millions to promote its product at the Super Bowl and in new TV ads.

Mark Bittman, food writer for The New York Times, said the superstar is making a "bad decision" to work with the beverage company.

"She has associated herself with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign -- a campaign to eat better [and] move more ... and now [she is] pushing Pepsi, really quite the opposite of that," he said. "She might consider giving some or all of this money to charity."

Both Beyonce's public relations team and PepsiCo, the maker of Pepsi, declined to comment to ABC News.

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which represents the non-alcoholic beverage industry, told ABC News that it has partnered with Michelle Obama on her "Let's Move" campaign, as well as Bill Clinton to encourage a "meaningful impact on the complex issue of obesity."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Weight Loss Reality Star "Ruby" Dishes on Show’s Failure YORK) -- Starving herself then bingeing on Cool Whip and Graham crackers; shifting her weight to trick the scale; even disguising herself and going through McDonald’s Drive-Thru — these are the kinds of self-sabotage behaviors Ruby, the hit weight-loss reality show that ran from 2008 to 2011, was supposed to be an antidote to.

But that’s what Ruby Gettinger, the show’s star, did, she said in an interview with 20/20.

For four seasons, Ruby, which aired on the Style Network, followed Gettinger’s every move as she struggled to go from more than 700 pounds to 250. Her bubbly personality won hundreds of thousands of fans, who cheered her on through achievements like driving, riding a bike and swimming.

Dr. Oz, Regis and Kelly and even Oprah came calling, making Ruby the face of obesity.

With the show came counselors, a nutrition plan, trainers — all working toward the goal: 250 pounds.

But secretly, Gettinger now says, off camera her goal was dramatically different.

“I never, ever say this, but in my head, my goal was 128,” Gettinger told ABC News’ Amy Robach. “I wanted to be so thin that someone would look at me and say, ‘Are you anorexic?’”

She didn’t quite get to 128, but after season one, she was at 373, almost 130 pounds less than where she began. In the second season, while having some personal setbacks, she still managed to pull out a new low, 357. At the start of season three, Ruby was arguably one of the most documented stories of obesity and weight loss in America.

While the show brought on a celebrity high, the pressure to keep losing was bringing her down, causing stress and meltdowns.

“I didn’t realize this is such an addiction,” Gettinger said. “Like alcoholism, drugs, you know?”

Tennie McCarty, who was a counselor on Ruby, runs Shades of Hope, a treatment center for those with eating disorders. She said food addiction is not only real — it can be even worse than alcohol and drugs.

“[With] alcoholism, drug addiction, nicotine addiction … [y]ou could live the rest of your life and not drink alcohol, take drugs or smoke nicotine,” she said, whereas food is everywhere, and you have to eat.

Ruby was spiraling out of control — and going off her program for healthy weight loss.

“There was a lot of pressure,” she said. “It made me start starving myself to death.  I literally did not eat for four days because I knew I had to weigh. … And then after I weighed, I would binge eat.”

One day, Gettinger’s niece came over, and she had some Chicken McNuggets.

“For a week after that,” Gettinger said, “I would go through the Drive-Thru — and I’m not kidding you — put a hat on, glasses, so no one would recognize me. … But just in case they’d recognize me, I would have the phone like this and go, Okay, now, what is it that you wanted? … It was two McNuggets? Okay. …That’s just horrible to admit. But it was almost like just that one bit triggers something in me.”

Gettinger stopped using her exercise equipment, and covered up her secret.

“When I was in a bad place I didn’t use them at all. I’d get a washcloth and dust them off. I didn’t want people to think, ‘She’s not using her equipment.’”

But the numbers on the scale couldn’t lie, so Gettinger devised a way to deceive the scale, the show and the fans rooting for her.

“I could figure out a way to lean to this way or that way,” Gettinger said. “I could make a 28-to-30-pound difference.”

She even believed her own lie, Gettinger said.

“[I was] almost getting excited later on in the day, because people are bragging about the number that I have convinced myself that is the number, too,” she said.

The show’s producers weren’t fooled and sent Gettinger to a weight-loss camp to restore her motivation. Nothing worked, and Ruby was cancelled, leaving fans wondering what happened.

“[The producers] said, ‘We love you … we’re just not going to continue the show,” Gettinger said. “No one said this, but my personal belief is [they cancelled it] because I gained weight,” she added. She said she blamed herself for the show’s end and for “letting so many people down.”

Soon after the show ended, Gettinger’s brother died. She lay in bed, depressed and eating, she said. She gained 50 pounds, taking her back almost to 400.

“I woke up with, like, This is it, I’m doing this. It’s not about the show; it’s not about anything else. I got to finish this for me.”

Desperate and with no money, Gettinger turned to her former trainers from the TV show.

“I said, Of course, I’m here for you no matter what,” said Shazia Edmonds. “That phone call to me was so refreshing. It felt like she gets it, she wants to do it on her own.”

Gettinger has named her new campaign Ruby’s Challenge, and has a website to encourage fans to watch her progress and join themselves. She is back in the gym regularly and eating right, and has worked her weight down to 360.

Gettinger said she had learned some hard yet valuable lessons: “The hard road is the best road, and just in the past two months I have never worked out [so] hard, been so strict, been so consistent.”

Copyright  2013 ABC News Radio


Kathy Griffin’s Assistant: TV Spurred Me to Lose ‘An Olsen Twin’

Courtesy Tiffany Rinehart(NEW YORK) -- When Tiffany Rinehart moved to Los Angeles to work as comedian Kathy Griffin's assistant, the job came with more than she had bargained for.  Griffin was shooting her hit Bravo reality show My Life on the D List, and Rinehart was soon making regular appearances.

The fun of suddenly being on TV was overshadowed by another concern, Rinehart said.

“I started watching it, and I’m like, Wow I’m fat!  And I need to do something about it,” she said.

Rinehart decided not just to slim down but to get healthy, and began the slow process of losing weight through diet and exercise.  She has lost more than 80 pounds.

“I’ve lost an Olsen twin, I like to say,” Rinehart said.  “They’re about 80 pounds, right?”

Soon everyone, including her famous boss, was noticing her metamorphosis.

“I just started to notice that …she was leaving in workout clothes,” Griffin said.  “Then other people would say, ‘Tiffany’s lost a lot of weight.’  But what was so smart about the way she did it was, she didn’t come into the office one day and say, ‘I’m gonna lose all this weight by this time.’  She just started doing it.”

Griffin knows how important being thin is in an industry that places enormous emphasis on how you look.

“I have to be thin and funny,” Griffin said.  “I could be fat and funny, but it would be harder to get gay men to appreciate my outfits.”

Rinehart has lost more than 80 pounds but knows losing it is only half the battle.

“I think it’s more of a lifestyle change and not just a fad diet,” she said.  “You have to commit to something for the rest of your life.”

Her goal is to lose 100 total, and then to celebrate with a personal first.

“I never wore a two-piece bathing suit in my life, so I would like to one day do that,” Rinehart said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Former World's Fattest Man Fights for Skin Removal Surgery

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(IPSWICH, England) -- Paul Mason, once called the world's fattest man, has lost more than two-thirds of his weight and now wants surgery to remove his excess skin.

The 51-year-old former postman from Ipswich, England weighed 980 pounds. After having gastric bypass surgery three years ago, he has slimmed down to a comparatively svelte 350 pounds. The dramatic weight loss has left Mason with huge folds of excess skin around his stomach, arms and legs.

According to the British newspaper The Sun, Mason must use a wheelchair because the excess skin hampers his ability to walk.

"It doesn't matter how much toning up you do, it's only going to get worse," The Sun quotes Mason as saying.

Dr. Jeff Kenkel, a professor of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said loose skin is a common side effect of weight loss surgery, not only because of the massive fat loss but also because the skin is so damaged from being overstretched that it loses its elasticity.

"It's like letting all of the air out of balloon -- it collapses and wrinkles," he said.

Kenkel estimated that Mason's weight loss has left him with as much as 50 pounds of baggy skin around the abdomen -- and up to 75 pounds of excess skin overall.

Removing the extra skin certainly could help improve Mason's mobility, Kenkel said.

"That much skin would affect his joints and his balance. If the apron of skin around his abdomen hangs below his knees, it would get in the way."

The skin is likely to cause other problems too, according to Kenkel. Sweat and dirt can get trapped in the folds, causing painful rashes and fungal infections. And, as Mason has complained, the excess weight causes the skin to tear and split.

Nevertheless, Britain's National Health Service has said skin removal surgery must wait until Mason's weight remains stable for at least two years. According to Kenkel, one to two years is a standard waiting period for this type of procedure.

Removal of overhanging skin is known as a pannusectomy, and doctors say it's considered reconstructive rather than cosmetic surgery.

"You have to lift up the skin, make an incision to free up the excess tissue and cut the skin out," said Dr. Constantino Mendieta, a plastic surgeon in Miami.

If there is a great deal of flabby, stretched-out skin, Mendieta said the surgeon would have to use a crane or devise their own special piece of equipment to hoist it upward and out of the way. In Mason's case, it will probably require several procedures to get the job done.

Recovery tends to be rough going as well. Mendieta estimated it takes at least 3-4 weeks before a patient is back on his feet and about six months before all the swelling goes down. Complications like wound breakage, blood clots and infection are common, partly because those who undergo this type of surgery are usually in poor health.

"It's a paradox, but because they've lost so much weight they are often malnourished and have other health problems like diabetes," he said.

However, Mendieta said the results are worth it because being free of the skin can make a world of difference to the patient, both psychologically and physically.

"Even though it's such a tough procedure and a long recovery, most find it's worth it," he said.

Mason has told various British press that he ballooned to his enormous size by eating 20,000 calories a day. He claimed he developed an eating disorder in his 20s as an emotional response to a breakup, his father's death and the deterioration in his mother's health.

At the height of his disorder, he would gorge on an entire package of bacon, four sausages and four eggs complete with bread and hash browns for breakfast. For lunch he would eat quadruple portions of fish and chips along with two kebabs, followed by a roast dinner, curries or pizza and more chips in the evening. During the day, he'd snack on 40 packages of chips plus sausage rolls and pasties.

As his weight grew, he was left unable to stand or walk. He was finally left bedridden. He quit his job as a postman when his weight prevented him from completing his deliveries. Eventually, a specially-adapted house was built and home aides were brought in to care for him. British taxpayers have footed the bill for everything, including his medical care, to the tune of $2.5 million.

In 2009, he underwent gastric bypass surgery to reduce the size of his stomach. Now that he's shed more than 600 pounds -- and his title as the world's fattest -- he says he hopes he can someday travel, meet a woman and live a normal, healthy life.

Mason said he is desperate to lose even more weight but believes it won't be possible without the additional surgery.

"I am doing my part in getting my weight down and they now need to do their part and remove the excess skin," he said. "It is stopping me from being able to get on with my life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Extreme Weight Loss: Pair Drops Hundreds of Pounds

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At age 33, Missy Hendricks has spent her entire lifetime at war with her weight.

“My maiden name was Blinkenship and they’d call me ‘Battle Ship’ and that just stuck in my head,” Hendricks told ABC News.

By the age of 20, Hendricks weighed nearly 300 pounds.  When her new husband began to cheat within a year of their marriage, Hendricks turned again to food for comfort.

“I would eat a whole box of Honey Combs [cereal], the family size, just because I was mad at him,” she said.  ”I felt that I wasn’t good enough.”

Hendricks divorced her husband but the pain of his infidelity caused her to binge, nearly doubling her weight.  Three years later, at age 23, the newly-single Hendricks carried 526 pounds on her 5’8″ frame.

“I felt unwanted and I didn’t want to be unwanted for the rest of my life, so I had to change,” she said.

Hendricks began to follow the Atkins diet and today, 12 years later, she weighs 131 pounds.

While it was divorce that motivated Hendricks to change, it was a wake-up call from a doctor that got Richard Neal to take another look at his health.  Weighing in at 426 pounds, the 28-year-old, like Hendricks, had been overweight his entire life.

“Even at night, when I was a kid, I would go in and sneak in the fridge and eat packs of hot dogs,” Neal said.  “I would just binge eat and binge eat until I literally wanted to throw up.”

“Eventually I was just eating my worries and pain away,” he said.

A doctor told Neal that if his eating habits remained the same, he would not live to see his 30th birthday and he would never have kids again.  Around the same time, a friend loaned Neal a workout DVD that became his tool for transformation.

“I was sitting on the couch,” Neal recalled.  “I just got done eating a box of cereal and I just thought about that DVD and I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll try it out.’  I had a window air unit and I went and put it on, turned the DVD player on, popped the DVD in and pressed play.”

Neal went on to lose more than half his body weight and is now a fitness coach himself.

“This is what I do,” he told ABC's Good Morning America of his career as an independent coach for Team Beachbody.  “I help people get their lives back because that’s what matters.”

Neal, who now weighs 200 pounds, has been able to keep the pounds off by staying focused on his lifestyle, not a quick-fix diet.

“It’s all about maintenance,” he said.  “It’s going down to making that lifestyle change because diets are temporary.  Lifestyle changes are forever and it’s understanding that.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio