Gerry Barrett (63) never had weight issues as a young man, when he liked to train five or six days a week, doing weights, karate and other physical activities.
It was after getting married in his 20s and starting a family that he began to put on weight. With a broad, 6ft 1in (1.85m) frame, he says he was always able to carry a lot of weight and has worked continuously in telecoms since he was 17.
By the time I was 40, I was probably 22-23 stone [140-146kg] and I finally went up to my highest of 28½ stone [181kg].
Over the years he attended weight-loss organisations. “I would always lose about 2½ stone and then I would stop and put the 2½ stone back on again.”
Barrett, who lives in Ballivor, Co Meath, was reluctant to go to the GP about it. “I felt as a man I should be able to sort these things out. And I didn’t and, to some extent, I felt as if I had failed.”
He looks back now and sees he had developed an addiction to food. “The food was controlling me, rather than me controlling the food.”
But that insight came only after exploring both the medical and psychological reasons for overeating at the public weight management service in St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Co Dublin. It took him about six years to get into that service, such is the demand.