Rhoose man Zac Smith sheds 20 stone and feels 'reborn'

A 50-stone man, who has shed 20 stone, says he hopes he will qualify for follow-up surgery on the NHS.

Zac Smith, 38, of Rhoose, Vale of Glamorgan, said he feels "reborn" after losing weight after paying for surgery in India a year ago.

BBC Wales' Week In Week Out followed Mr Smith, who said he now exercised in the pool and gym to help slim down.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Jewell said a review of the amount of obesity surgery in Wales was being carried out.

Dr Jewell said there was evidence such treatments could save money if they stopped people developing life-threatening diseases like diabetes.

The programme focuses on Mr Smith, who borrowed his mother's life savings to pay for bariatric surgery in India when he weighed 50 stones.

Since then, Mr Smith has lost 20 stone.

His attempt to have weight-loss surgery on the NHS was rejected because of the rationing of such surgery in Wales.

He said he worries he may not get cosmetic surgery on the NHS in the future to remove excess skin.

Mr Smith's operation took away most of his stomach so he can only eat small amounts at a time.

He tells the programme: "It's been a monumental year.

"It's taken dedication, focus and hard work."

Weight-loss surgeon Professor John Baxter said studies of patients who have had obesity surgery show they gradually put weight back on over time, so continuing dietary support is essential.

He said: "We do need almost like a nutrition tsar, we need somebody to tell us what we should be putting in our mouths."

Dr Jewell said there is no need for a "food tsar" because there is already a comprehensive and joined up strategy in place to tackle obesity.

He added: "If we need to find the resources to support [more bariatric surgery] we will need to identify where they will come from because we are in a very tight financial situation.

He added that in order to pay for it, the question was "what are we going to stop".

'Hard work'

Mr Smith also has a schedule of three-hour gym workouts every day, which he claims has helped him shed the pounds.

However, Chepstow-based nutritionist and author Zoe Harcombe tells the programme: "We cannot exercise away the junk we are putting into our bodies."

She said she believes current UK government advice on what to eat is over-complicated and "180-degrees wrong".

She calls for the Welsh government to change its advice to something simpler, for instance to eat "real" rather than "processed" food.

Week In Week Out is screened on BBC One Wales at 22:35 GMT on Tuesday, 14 February.

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