RE­BEKAH DEVLIN OUT OF THE BOX

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Weekly Preview -

IT’S easy to pass judg­ment on fat peo­ple. They’re lazy; they’ve got no one to blame but them­selves; if they truly want to lose weight, they should just stop shov­el­ling food into their mouths.

But watch­ing these brave stu­dents at Wellspring Academy, a board­ing school for over­weight and obese chil­dren, will break your heart.

This is the first gen­er­a­tion of teenagers who might not live longer than their par­ents.

Con­tem­plate that for a moment. It’s hor­ri­fy­ing.

Scotty Basso is just 13, but needs to lose at least 68kg.

‘‘ At school I got picked on a lot, it felt like they didn’t even want me there,’’ the 166kg teen says through tears.

All of these kids know what it is like to be os­tracised.

Six­teen-year-old Tan­isha is clas­si­fied as su­per mor­bidly obese. She weighs a stag­ger­ing 231kg. Her legs are bow­ing be­cause she is so heavy and she’s en­dured more surg­eries than she can re­call.

‘‘ The in­sults un­der peo­ple’s breath that I still catch . . . they look at me as if I’m some kind of alien,’’ she says.

When her mea­sure­ments are taken, the tape won’t reach around her waist. Her despair is tan­gi­ble. ‘‘ He had to es­ti­mate the rest

Weighty is­sue: teen chal­lenge. of the way, I was just em­bar­rassed,’’ she says.

The stu­dents’ courage will as­tound you as they dare to dream of a bet­ter life.

Tan­isha, who can barely stand up, tries to par­tic­i­pate in a bas­ket­ball match.

‘‘ I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I played sports,’’ she says. ‘‘ The biggest chal­lenge wasn’t even play­ing bas­ket­ball, it was walk­ing to the other side of the court. I couldn’t even stay in for a whole minute,’’

But af­ter a short rest, she goes back in. When she scores a goal, you want to jump through the TV and high-five her your­self.

‘‘ I’ve never scored a bas­ket in a game,’’ she says, beam­ing.

You go, girl. Too Fat For 15: Fight­ing Back Life­style You, Fox­tel/ Aus­tar, 9.30pm

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