This week on BBC Three there was a documentary entitled “Big meets Bigger” – involving two plump British girls being sent to Mississippi – obesity capital of the US. On arrival they were placed into a household of 38 stone Deloris, and a meagre 24 stone Diane. Both women struggled to move around, couldn’t touch their toes, brush their hair, or even sleep in a bed [instead they flopped into recliner chairs in the living room, where Deloris complained “if I drop something, I canna pick it up” – poor thing.] The idea was that Anne and Bex, the large Brits who looked remarkably small in comparison to their Mississippi counterparts, would realise the dangers of overeating and pursue a healthier lifestyle. Their first meal stateside consisted of pigs ears, knuckles and fat-back: “ya can eat it all except the bone” announced Deloris as she shovelled another couple of ears into her mouth; “we love food” she declared, “we make love to food.”

Over the week, Anne and Bex were expected to help Deloris and Diane with their daily lives. Viewers watched them wash feet, braid hair, and assist with dressing. Once dressed, however, the stomach was main priority as they squeezed into a four wheel drive and headed towards Mississippi’s largest buffet – offering a mere 250 dishes. Before dinner both women downed a handful of pills for blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems [plus three aspirin, just incase]. No sooner had the last one been swallowed than the gobbling began. Alpine ranges of potatoes were covered in snow-like layers of salt; - there was no talking, just eating, and multiple trips to the counter. Anne and Bex looked at each other in vague shock, appetites apparently fast disappearing. “I’ve never met anyone who can eat more than me” said bubbly Anne, “it’s frightening.”

The girls were taken to a dialysis unit where supersize patient lay on supersize beds. They visited the cemetery where Deloris and Diane’s relatives are buried. “This is Aunt Teresa; she was so fat, but she just ate and ate and ate” mused Deloris. On seeing her deceased aunt in her supersize casket, Diane had vowed not to become like her morbidly obese relative, “until it was dinner time, and I forgot all about Aunt Teresa” she said, smiling.

Ultimately Anne and Bex returned to the UK determined to get fit and lose weight. Both realised they had been using food as a comfort, to block out other issues. When the film crew caught up with them a month later however, both had struggled to put their new regime into practice.

This week we were told Britain is losing the obesity battle, which can hardly come as a surprise to anyone with eyes. I’ve recently returned from 6months in India, where protruding rib cages are more commonplace than bulging stomachs and obesity-related-mobility-scooters. I must say, it repulses me. What repulses me most is the attitude that it’s okay to be fat. I’m not talking about an extra pound or two; I’m talking about eating yourself to death, as Deloris and Diane were clearly doing. If you saw a heroin addict putting their life in danger, 99.9% of the population would push them into rehab of some sort. It is obvious that such abuse is harmful, and a desperate cry for help. With food, however, there seems to be a different trend emerging – the old lie of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

In March the Guardian ran with a headline “The women who want to be obsese”; known as “gainers” or “feedees”. Donna Simpson, for instance, a 42yr old mother from New Jersey – weighing in at 43stones, has a lifetime ambition of becoming the fattest woman on earth [ what her children make of this aim is unreported]. An anonymous nurse from the Midlands declared “It’s my right to be fat; nothing about making a point.” Another complained; “As a fat woman I have experienced discrimination on a daily basis.” One wonders if this discrimination includes lack of provision/strong chairs to cater their 43stone frame.

We have all been given a body created in the image and likeness of God. It is our duty to treat this body well and respect it. To condone abuse of the body for fear of being considered “fattist” if we raise an eyebrow, is nonsensical, and one has to ask whether the NHS should pay for obesity-related treatment, especially to the brags of “it’s my right to be fat”. It’s also your right to pay for treatment when your arteries are so clogged they can no longer pump blood around your humungous body because of all the junk you’ve consumed. Or is this really a prolonged suicide – the clichéd death by chocolate?

Instead of legitimising obesity; instead of tiptoeing around the F word, we need to get real. Is there any way 40stone is beautiful, or healthy? Would any “healthy” person want to be the fattest on earth; bedridden, dying, and bereft of a life? Have people stopped looking in the mirror? This is not only unhealthy, but heartbreaking – to witness the torture these people are going through. What we really need to address are the reasons why people are overeating, just as we have to ask at the opposite end of the spectrum why girls are determined to be a size zero. We all have a need for balance and moderation in life. It’s quite simple; eat less, exercise more.