When Jo Garraway went to her local beautician to have her eyebrows shaped and the bed collapsed under her, not once, but twice, she knew she had to do something about her weight.
She had always struggled with being overweight, but it was when she left home aged 18 due to family issues, she really piled on the kilos.
In one year alone she put on 50kg, and by 2009 she tipped the scales at 184kg.
The community services worker from Griffith, NSW struggled to walk from the car park to the supermarket.
She developed type two diabetes and high blood pressure, and admits she was worried about her lifespan.
“I thought if I don’t do anything, I’m not going to have a long life,” she told 9News.
Ms Garraway said she ate a lot of junk food, and loved chocolate and hot chips especially – often eating so much she’d feel sick.
And while she did change her habits, trying “everything” to lose weight from big-name diets to exercising six days a week, she struggled to shift more than a few kilograms.
However, Ms Garraway said her GPs were unsympathetic when she went to ask for help.
“I just felt judged,” she said.
“They were very staunch; ‘here’s the medication, try this, you need to walk more.”
“There was no ongoing support.”
The study found 20 per cent of overweight or obese Aussie are too uncomfortable to raise the issue with their GP.
And with 12.5m overweight or obese according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare- two thirds of the nation- that’s a lot of people.
Dr Georgia Rigas, report leading author and chairwoman of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ Obesity Specific Interest Group, said “fat shaming” means people with weight problems are less likely to seek medical health.
“Our research showed that the majority of people living with obesity felt that they need to manage it ‘on their own’. I can’t think of any other chronic progressive disease where a person felt that way,” Dr Rigas, said.
“Weight bias and stigma are rife in the community – including amongst healthcare professionals and the media.
“We all have a role to play in helping to change the narrative.”
Eventually, Ms Garraway decided, after doing her own research, she needed a gastric bypass.
On the packed plane flying to Sydney for the operation, the mother-of-two had an experience that convinced her she’d made the right decision.
“I was trying not to encroach on the space of people but it must have looked terrible,” she said.
“The flight attendant came and said to the person next to me, ‘I’m moving you to a spare spot.’
“I just felt like I was nothing.”
After the bypass, she lost almost 90kg – the same as more than 50 bags of sugar.
She now weighs 97kg, and unlike when she was obese, said she “feels she has value”.
She urged other people to engage with their doctors, and also wants GP’s to learn more about how to help patients.
“It’s scary to go to these doctors and talk about it,” she said.
“But they don’t then nothing changes.