If you’ve got access to an ultra-marathon runner and a scientifically-designed “fat suit” that is designed to simulate the experience of being morbidly obese the only sensible course of action is to put those two things together. This was the case with MAN v FAT when the absurdly fit Liam Almond said he’d be happy to wear the suit. This is what we learned…
So Liam – you’re a pretty fit guy – has that always been the case?
I’ve always been a naturally healthy sort of person, I am 5’11 and currently weigh just under 11 stone. I’ve played lots of different sports since I was young and I am always active which has kept me in good shape. I’m in a fortunate position where I don’t normally have to monitor my diet. I eat most things in moderation, however this has changed recently as I am currently in training for an ultra marathon (100km race). I have started a very strict protein diet, along with lots of conditioning training and so my body is probably in the best shape it has ever been.
Why did you try on the fat suit?
I was intrigued as to how it would feel, both physically and mentally, as it is hard for me to comprehend how anyone can get that big without doing anything about it!
It’s not exactly easy to put the suit on is it? What were your first impressions?
This may sound obvious but it has a lot heavier than I expected! I only wore it wore an hour but could already feel the extra strain on my legs, knees and joints and found it uncomfortable standing for too long. Bending, sitting, turning, all became hard and my balance was completely thrown off. It’s surprising how many things your size impacts on that you wouldn’t have initially imagined.
What sort of things did you do when you were “fat”?
I just tried to continue my evening’s tasks. Moving round the house, up and down stairs, cooking – really normal stuff. Everything became a chore, even just passing through doorways and I realised that I was trying to conserve my movement and energy and I can see how that could get worse as you realise that potentially the simplest thing to do is to stay still. The worst experience however was when I attempted to go to the toilet.
Did it change your view of obese people?
It was a strange experience. For the first time I had a bit of sympathy for those morbidly obese. Doing everyday tasks – even as basic as sitting, standing, picking things off the floor – became a massive chore, and I realised how much it must impact on someone’s everyday life.
What do you think people could get out of the experience of trying on the suit?
Firstly, I think that it’s important to see that it’s not just a ‘visual’ impact, it really does have a severe physical impact on your life. Then there are tasks that are harder, or flat-out impossible to do and it’s emphatically not just laziness that would stop an obese person from doing those things. Finally, I think it’s easy to see that it must be a detrimental cycle, as once you are that size it would be so much harder to exercise and lose that weight.
I’d say it was a really worthwhile experience. I think it is good for people to understand the challenges that obese people face and help understand what they can and can’t do to improve their living experience. I think for health professionals it would give a better understanding of the challenges of obesity and fat patients. And, finally, I think it is one of the best deterrents for anyone to stop them ever getting to that size in real life.