Have you ever wondered: Just how far can obesity go? The fattest person in the world
is said to weigh about 1,200 pounds. In other words, more than half a ton (probably, since there is no scale to weigh him exactly). This, however, is hearsay and I'm not sure it can be taken for granted. But let's take a look at obesity in our own backyard. From my own experience, while practicing in a suburban hospital, what was the heaviest person I've seen?
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Well, there were actually two people vying for this title. The first, a middle-aged man (about 55 years of age), arrived to the hospital with a stroke, sent over from the nursing home where he usually spent his days. This man weighed 585 pounds - measured in the hospital on a special scale. Of course, he was bedridden. His personal grooming was extremely difficult and took a team of 6 nurses to accomplish. The most vivid memory I'm left with are the huge gaping holes in his back - pressure sores which had eventually evolved into large infected ulcers. These ulcers needed to be packed with gauze every few days. I remember watching one day while the nurses removed the old gauze in preparation for repacking the wounds. The quantity of gauze removed was shocking - it filled 2 large buckets, a harrowing indication of the size of the ulcers. In spite of his predicament, this man was the sweetest person one could imagine. He was in our ward for a long time, developing one complication after another - from blood clots in his legs and pulmonary emboli to atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias. He eventually died during that hospital stay. I know I missed not having him around.
The second man who pops into my mind as a "heavy weight champion" was only 26 years of age. In spite of the 625 pounds he weighed, he was still mobile at the time. On good days, he walked around with difficulty, huffing and puffing and leaning on a metal cane. On bad days, he felt depressed and refused to get out of bed. The reason he was admitted to the hospital was a refractory skin infection in his groin. He hadn't been washing those body parts in a long time, being unable to reach them. It quickly became apparent this man carried a significant psychological baggage: He was abusive to the nurses taking care of him, and refused to comply with the nutritional plan laid out by the dietitian. He constantly complained of being hungry and demanded "more food". Finally, he signed himself out of the hospital against medical advice, prior to his antibiotic treatment being completed. I never saw him again.
These 2 cases go to illustrate the huge health risks of obesity. Not only does it compromise the heart and blood vessels, but it also carries a high risk of refractory infections due to one's inability to perform adequate personal grooming. Additionally, obesity may predispose to certain types of cancer and psychological problems, including mood disorders.
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