A LOCAL woman has written to Prime Minister David Cameron in a bid to get government funding for a helpline she set up for people struggling with their weight.
Jennifer Bodek is also keen to raise money to help make a documentary highlighting her story.
At one time she tipped the scales at 38 stones but she has lost 15 stones in the past 18 months.
Jennifer, who lives in Scrabster, said the Government has expressed concern about the increasing number of obese people in the UK but little help is available to tackle the problem.
The 47-year-old mum-of-four started comfort eating after the death of her mother and brother within a two-year period when she was still in her teens. She has battled with her weight ever since and in March 2010 was rushed to hospital with double pneumonia and respiratory failure.
She spent seven days in intensive care and a total of 21 days on the ward and had to be revived twice after suffering heart failure.
During that time she saw an image of her children standing around her grave, weeping. It was a turning point in her life.
Since then she has been on a mission to lose weight and recently started up a website – Diet or Die – to help other people with similar problems. It already has over 800 followers from throughout the UK and other parts of the world, including America.
Jennifer is also hoping to make a documentary with local film makers Toby and Fionn Watts to tell her story. A promotional teaser has been created to try and attract funding for the project. She wrote to the prime minister this week in a bid to get some backing for both ventures.
Jennifer told Mr Cameron she hopes to inspire other people so that they too can lose weight without having to resort to surgery.
She stressed the need to tackle the growing obesity problem and reminded Mr Cameron that it is expensive to eat healthily.
“A frozen lasagne costs about £2 but to make one is about £6. Fruit and vegetables are very expensive but you can buy a 24-pack of crisps for £1.99,” she stated.
Jennifer was buying and consuming multi-packs of crisps on a daily basis and was eating between 10 and 15 chocolate bars a day. For the promotional teaser she was asked to go into a supermarket and buy a 24-pack of crisps, and she found it a daunting experience.
“I have not done that for over two years and doing it again was like asking an alcoholic to go in to get a bottle of vodka. It was quite an achievement.”
She added: “I did not open the crisps. I took them home and gave some to Fionn and Toby but did not have any myself. I felt quite proud.”
Jennifer, who sent Mr Cameron a link to her website and a copy of the teaser for the documentary, is hoping to raise £5000, including about £1500 to get the documentary under way. She also plans to contact the Scottish Government.
She is delighted with the response her website has received and already has helped a number of people who are struggling with their weight. They include the heaviest woman in Britain who weighs 46 stone and was on daytime television recently.
Jennifer’s own story is about to be featured in two well-known magazines within the next six weeks.
The money she gets for that will be used for the helpline and the documentary.
She also pointed out that she and 12 other obese people will be raising money by posing naked for a calendar and are hoping to record a song to generate funds.
The Watts brothers hope the film will be “a huge inspiration” to those who are struggling with their weight, and encourage them to stay strong and believe it is possible to turn things around, as Jennifer did.
Toby said: “But we would also like it to be an inspiration to all people simply because of Jennifer’s very human struggle to find the courage and determination needed to bring herself back from the brink.”