BRITAIN’S “fattest man”, Matthew Crawford, has died from sepsis and organ failure at the tender age of 37.
A sad end to a life blighted by morbid obesity, but also yet another damning indictment of the UK’s social care system that so obviously failed him.
For while those who are merely overweight can perhaps be successfully advised to “eat less and move more” to effect change, the complexities of why the Matthews of this world end up so dangerously fat are much harder to tackle.
Matthew, from Lincoln, first made headlines when he appeared on TV’s Trisha show under the banner: “You’re an obese binge boozer and today it stops.”
The date of his appearance is unclear, but the programme ended in 2010, and over the next 12 years his weight ballooned to 55 stone.
He next made headlines in 2018, when he was admitted to King’s Mill hospital in Nottinghamshire with sepsis, and ended up staying there for 18 months because there was nowhere else for him to go.
The cost of his taxpayer-funded stay reached around £250,000 because the hospital had to rent a special, reinforced bed and he took up the space of four patients.
An NHS source at the time said: “Everybody is sick to the back teeth with the situation and it’s about time it was exposed.
“There’s nothing medically wrong with Matt now but we’re powerless to get rid of him.”
After the hospital took legal action against social services, he was eventually moved to a special unit but “Fatkid”, as his friends affectionately referred to him, passed away after his overworked vital organs packed up.
Could his life have been saved (as well as hundreds of thousands of pounds) if the state had intervened when he was a teenager with a coherent and effective cross-party policy to tackle obesity for the greater good?
Instead, year after year, different politicians say it’s a national crisis then come up with headline-grabbing ideas that merely nibble at its edges.
In 2018, the Royal College of Physicians called for obesity to be recognised as a disease by the Government and wider health sector and warned that, until it is, the problem will only get worse.
RCP president, Professor Andrew Goddard, said: “It is not a lifestyle choice caused by individual greed but a disease caused by health inequalities, genetic influences and social factors.
“It is governments, not individuals, which can have an impact on the food environment through regulation and taxation, and by controlling availability and affordability.
“Governments can also promote physical activity by ensuring that facilities are available to local communities, and through legislation and public health initiatives.”
Nibble at edges
Whether you’re on board with it being classed a disease or not, we can perhaps all agree that some joined-up, radical thinking is needed.
An astonishing 63 per cent of UK adults are classed as overweight, and half of those are obese.
More worryingly, one third of kids leaving primary school are classed as overweight, with one in five deemed to be obese.
Are they going to be the next generation of Matthews?
You don’t have to be “Britain’s fattest man” to suffer a litany of expensive health and mobility problems that might be avoided with early intervention.
So it’s time to enable GPs to stop tippy-toeing around the issue, curb the excesses of the food industry via tougher legislation and overhaul the social care system before pumping money where it will be the most effective in tackling the obesity crisis.
That way, we’ll save lives as well as a small fortune in the long run.
Odd look in the Depparture lounge
JOHNNY DEPP has been spotted at Paris airport wearing braided hair and a fringed jacket after a costume fitting.
I thought this was the costume fitting.
Slebs keeping it real
IT’S been quite the week for major celebrities popping in to pubs for a slice of normality.
Post-Glastonbury, Coldplay’s Chris Martin and girlfriend Dakota Johnson stopped off for a pint at the Stag Inn near Bath where, after a couple mentioned their wedding song was going to be A Sky Full Of Stars, Chris sat at the piano and played it
Then Barry Manilow pitched up for a fish and chip lunch at a roadside pub in Romsley, Worcs, where the assistant manager says he was “polite and friendly” and happily posed for a photo.
One customer said: “I can’t believe I was sitting outside by him and never twigged.”
Probably because, unlike certain slebs, he wasn’t behaving like an entitled show-off while surrounded by a team of man mountains in mirrored shades.
If you don’t indulge in “look at me” behaviour then, most of the time, you can enjoy a relatively normal existence. Simples.
This is how to split up
KIDS all over the world are celebrating milestones such as the end of exams or transition to their next school.
And the daughter of actors Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts is no exception.
Here’s Kai marking the end of her time at middle school with a photo with her older sister, mum, dad and . . . their new partners.
Ray Donovan star Liev and King Kong actress Naomi were together 11 years but split up in 2016.
“Having a good relationship has always been our endgame, and we’ve put a lot of energy and effort into making that so,” says 53-year-old Naomi, who is now dating The Morning Show actor Billy Crudup.
“It’s not always a cakewalk, as they say in America. But it makes complete sense that it is an absolute priority, because it really matters to the children.
“You can see how there are so many things that can make a kid feel anxious, and knowing that their parents can be in the same room and joyfully, it means a lot to them.”
Hear hear. If only every Hollywood divorce was so admirably undramatic.
TRAIN staff, barristers, post office workers, airline staff, police, teachers and now doctors.
Anyone not either on strike already or threatening it?
It faint working
AMERICAN synchronised swimmer Anita Alvarez was saved from death by her coach after fainting in the water during the World Championship final in Budapest.
It is the second time coach Andrea Fuentes has rescued her after she also fainted during an Olympics qualifier in Barcelona last year, and according to Anita’s mother, it has happened another time before that.
Perhaps, for the peace of mind of all concerned, a change of career might be advisable?
Lost to the US
IT seems that the Beckhams may have lost their eldest son Brooklyn to the US for good.
His new wife Nicola Peltz has ruled out moving to the UK because: “I love knowing I’m so close to my family.”
Fair enough. But the downside is that her young husband is thousands of miles away from his.
As the old saying goes: “A son is a son until he gets a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for life.”
LONDON restaurants are among Europe’s noisiest.
Some are so loud that they could potentially damage the hearing of diners and staff.
Tell me about it. The other night, a friend invited me to a restaurant of their choice and, thanks to cheek-by-jowl wooden tables on a wooden floor and excessively loud music, I had to fashion an ear trumpet out of the menu.
Now I’m getting older, my choice of restaurant has little to do with the food and everything to do with whether I can actually hear the person sitting opposite me.
BORIS JOHNSON’S planned £150,000 treehouse for his son was scrapped after his police bodyguards raised security concerns.
Not to mention, one imagines, the concerns of his advisers at how tone deaf it would be to shell out the price of an actual house during a cost-of-living crisis.
EASTENDERS star Jessie Wallace is dating a carpenter called Justin Gallwey.
The couple are reportedly “very close” and, such is his devotion for his new amour, he even keeps a “Jessie” doll from Toy Story in his van.
It even looks like her after that recent night out.