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Last Chance for Weight Loss

Sven Schubert

Since July I have found myself very busy indeed. Mainly I've been finisha a two part documentary series looking a the world of Obesity seen through the eyes of a group of people attending a Weight Management Clinic in Dublin, Ireland. I've attached a few links below that will give you a chance to see the programme and a bit of press etc. but in essence the series is a two part observational documentary following eight patients (four one part, four the next) as they go through a year in the Weight Management Clinic based in St. Colmcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown. The clinic can only see 200 patients a year and operates out of a small portacabin at he back of the hospital - that in itself is quite shocking given that 900,000 Irish people battle obesity. Obesity is insidious. It creeps up on us and it makes every other condition one could have worse, you name it and obesity will impact on it... not to mention Depression. In Ireland it is a killer that is attributable to around 6000 deaths a year and impacts on the healthcare system to the tune of 3 billion euro per annum. The main aim of the clinic is to give people psychological and dietary support so that they can lose weight by themselves, in a sustainable manner. The clinic does offer Gastric Bypass surgery (performed in the main hospital) but due to budgetary cutbacks these happen only occasionally and patients usually have to sit on a waiting list for three to four years. My aim in the film was to challenge stereotypes and give a voice to a much stigmatized group of people and I feel the series has done this. The founder and main driver of the clinic is Prof Donal O'Shea, an incredibly inspiring man. He is so compassionate and he speaks passionately about and for his patients. I also covered in the series Prof O'Shea's campaign to try to stem childhood obesity by heading a ban on sports drinks and the power of education (especially GPs) in this matter. The statistics are quite shocking in this regard as 25% of the country's three year-olds are Obese and they will have an 82% chance of being obese as adults - this is based on research from Finland. Though the film is based in and around the clinic it really is focused on the patients and their families to chart the human cost of obesity. I filmed with some incredible people who through food addiction or psychological problems, had found themselves in horrendous situations. They we so generous to let me tell their stories and each one participated in order to try to help others - they were so brave. The documentary follows the highs and lows in these peoples lives and, through unique access to psychology sessions, the demons they must slay in order to lose weight. In the end I think one of the main messages viewers will get is that people cannot lose weight on their own, unless they have the love and support of friends and family... this really helps to save lives. The main story that crosses both parts is that of Sven Schubert who was admitted to Loughlinstown Hospital as an emergency case in December 2011 when his weight hit 46 stone, with a BMI of 75 - healthy BMI is 25. Sven went on a Milk only diet in the hope of losing enough weight to safely be given a gastric bypass. He was so brave and generous and allowed me to film his journey. The whole documentary project has taken around 15 months to make and about six months in development. It needed to as it was imperative that we see the reality of life battling weight. It was a really, really tough series to make but I'm very proud of it. Episode one went out last Monday and it got an unbelievable reaction for a documentary; I think my film caused a lot of people to rethink their attitudes on how some of us gain weight and then can't lose it. Operation Transformation it most certainly isn't. The series was made for RTE by myself - directing and filming - and Ailbhe Maher producing and recording sound. We were working for Shinawil with Larry Bass as our Executive Producer on this job.

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