This is Georgia Davis. You possibly recognise the name from the headlines in the news this week or you may recall a documentary made about her a few years ago. Georgia is 19 years old and suffers from Compulsive Overeating Disorder. She weighs approximately 63 stone, although doctors can’t be sure of her exact weight as they don’t have scales large enough to withstand her.
I can’t begin to tell you how sad this makes me. This young girl, who is on the cusp of leaving her teenage years behind and becoming a woman, should be having the time of her life feeling the dizzy excitements of a first love, experiencing frivolous adventures with friends and dreaming of a future filled with all the thrills and hope that only the young can imagine. Instead she has spent her recent years confined to a bed in which nurses must visit daily to turn and wash her whilst her mother brings her food and tends to her other needs. The indignity and shame she must feel is no doubt immense.
3 years ago Georgia attended a boot camp in America. She followed a calorie controlled diet, was put through intense workout classes and educated in diet and fitness. Georgia lost half of her body weight. In the three years that have followed she has regained all the weight she lost and is now heavier than ever as she gorges on processed foods and fizzy drinks high in fat and sugar, given to her by her mother.
This week the result of Georgia’s extreme eating habits culminated in a crew of all three emergency services joined by a team of scaffolders, builders and social workers knocking down walls in the family home to build a bridge from the first floor to the road outside. After eight hours and an estimated one hundred thousand pounds of manpower and machinery, Georgia was carried from her bedroom to an ambulance and taken to hospital. Today she remains in hospital and although settled, is essentially fighting for her life. Doctors have tested and confirmed diabetes, kidney problems, spinal damage, respiratory failure and other obesity related conditions. But whatever the outcome of this weeks events, the truth remains that without change, Georgia will die.
If Georgia is to have any hope of recovering from this ordeal, certain questions must be asked.
How was Georgia ever allowed to get to this size, not once, but twice?
Why did she regain all the weight lost at boot camp?
What steps can be taken to eliminate a repeat of this last week, or worse?
Some would say it is child abuse and lay the blame directly with her mother, after all, she is the one feeding her daughter. I’m not too sure that it is really that simple in reality.
Compulsive Overeating doesn’t equate to a conscious greed. It’s deeper than that, it drives you to act without thinking. Much like with any other addiction, the urge is often too great to resist and the short-term joy and satisfaction overrides the potential long-term mental, physical and emotional damage. Lesley, Georgia’s mother, is overweight herself, also has eating issues and is no doubt far too close to the situation to objectively realise what is best for her daughter. Torn with a mother’s love of wanting to do the right thing and keeping her daughter happy, the guilt she feels will be enormous. Of course she knows the situation is out of control, but who was on hand to guide her and lead the way when she couldn’t say no to her daughter’s demands. Tough Love is much easier in theory than it is in practise. I wonder where Social Services and the NHS could have helped more than they undoubtedly already did. I don’t know the full background or history of Georgia and her family but I do know that to be one person fighting against a current of opposing attitudes and opinions is not enough. The pull in the other direction is too strong and more often than not the majority overpower the minority.
Perhaps it would have been helpful for Lesley to have attended boot camp with Georgia or perhaps they should have had a live-in nutritionist, chef and personal trainer to give them full-time help and support. It would cost less than the amount spent in just one day to get Georgia to hospital or indeed the amount already spent and yet to be spent by the NHS. Or perhaps Georgia should be made to live in a specialised home for such eating disorders until she has reached a healthy weight and attitude towards food. Maybe Georgia and Lesley should attend classes each week to guide them and encourage them with lessons in preparing healthy meals and leading a healthy lifestyle. Maybe…maybe…
It’s easy to criticise and point blame from a distance. Of course she should never have been fed 13000 calories a day by her mother, there is no justification for that. But take a good look around you. A third of our children are overweight or obese and the figure is rising still. Let’s not ask who is to blame, but how can we fix this. This isn’t a problem that is going to silently go away and it is not fair that our children are suffering during what should be the best days of their lives. Bullying and teasing is rife among many schools and the “fat kid” is prime target material. If parents need help, let’s help them. If families need fixing, let’s start to fix them.
With the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations being held over the forthcoming weeks and months, there has never been a better time to show unity and inspire our next generation. If we don’t act soon, Britain might not have world-class athletes to compete in such events come 2024 and beyond.
As for Georgia, I truly hope she makes a full recovery. With love, determination and support I know she can overcome her addiction and go on to lead a happy, fulfilling life. Good luck Georgia, my thoughts are with you and your family.
Love, Emma. xGeorgia Davis