“Mum, why did you make me fat?”
That is the heart-breaking question one mother faced in her daughter’s battle with her relationship with food.
Liz Thomson’s daughter Holly-Ann is just ten years old, but her struggle with food has encompassed her life since she was a young child.
And after years of trying to get help, Holly-Ann’s determined mum has issued a desperate plea for funding to send her daughter to a specialist weight-loss retreat.
Miss Thomson says the Leeds-based MoreLife camp, which she discovered through obesity charity HOOP, would be “life changing” for her daughter, who weighs just over eight stone. But at a cost of £4,250 she cannot afford it and says help from the NHS just isn’t available.
“Holly-Ann has a bad behavioural relationship with food. She knows what is healthy, but she doesn’t know when to stop,” Miss Thomson, of Ovenden, said.
“I worry that she will rely on food to carry her through life. I have to be a bit strict about it, which puts a strain on our relationship, not because I’m worried about her size or the size of her clothes, but for her health.
“She needs this intervention because you can’t get anything from the NHS. All you get is either support in bulimia or anorexia. There’s an eighteen month waiting list to see a child psychologist and the doctor I spoke to was very dubious on filling out a Clinicial Commissioning Group (CCG) form for pots of money for individual situations.
“As parents we have to take responsibility for our children, I’m trying to nip it in the bud and I’m getting a bit annoyed that I’ve emailed the Government, the Secretary of Health and said ‘Can you help me?’. I’m desperate, I’m trying.
“They talk and they moan about obesity, but let’s do something about it. I’ve gone to the bank for a loan, I’ve written numerous letters to charities, not just for the full amount, for anything.
“I chose to be fat, but I don’t choose that for my daughter. I’m not saying she should be prioritised, but I am fighting for her right to a decent standard of living. I’m trying to get help not just for my daughter, but for others too.”
Miss Thomson says Holly-Ann’s issues with food began at the age of five, when a doctor told her ‘I think she needs to see a dietician because she’s fat’.
“That has had an implication mentally on Holly-Ann, she’s now self-conscious because she is bigger than the average 10-year-old,” she added. Now, the determined mum says that the MoreLife camp is the only way Holly-Ann will beat her food demons.
The five-week residential camp aims to empower young people to make steps towards a healthier future.
She said: “It’s a lot of money to spend, I know it is and some people may argue ‘you put your daughter in that position’, but until the shoe is on the other foot, nobody knows.
“For her there, with other children, she can see that it isn’t just her, she doesn’t have to be stigmatised.”
A spokesperson for the Calderdale CCG said that they would be happy to listen to Miss Thomson’s concerns about her daughter.