A biscuit factory worker who tipped the scales at 37st 6lbs has shed more than half his body weight.
Gary Marsden was spurred on to lose weight after being told his blood pressure was so high that he should be dead.
The 47-year-old joined his local slimming group a month after he received the dire warning from a nurse carrying out routine medicals at Fox’s Biscuits in Batley.
Since June 2012 he has lost 18st 8.5lbs, a feat which this week helped him beat 700,000 other members across UK and Ireland to take the title of Slimming World’s Greatest Loser 2015.
Gary said: “My son thinks it’s great because I can run around a rugby field with him.
“I can shop in high street clothes shops, and my blood pressure’s completely normal.”
The nurse was surprised I was still walking around - she said technically I should be dead.
The father-of-one, who lives in Batley, had been overweight for 20 years after starting to put on the pounds when he settled down with his wife, Pamela.
Gary, who works as a stock controller for Fox’s, said that he turned to food for comfort as he became more self-conscious about his increasing size and the problem snowballed.
“I felt ashamed so I became depressed and withdrawn,” he said.
“It was a catch-22 situation as I would comfort eat but then I gained more weight and became even more depressed. I’d make excuses not to go on nights out or attend family gatherings because I felt really self-conscious. However, I hated missing out on doing things with my son Ben, who’s 11.”
The turning point came three years ago when the nurse examining Gary sent him to A&E, so shocked was she by his blood pressure readings.
Gary said: “She was surprised I was still walking around, she said technically I should be dead. That was a wake-up call for me. I knew my family was worried about my health and I had to do something – I wanted to be around to see Ben grow up.”
Gary has since turned his life around, joining the weight loss group in Batley, changing his diet and taking up karate.
He has also gone teetotal and his blood pressure has returned to normal levels.
Paying tribute to his fellow slimmers and group consultant Lynne Asquith, Gary said: “Everyone in the group is great. They’re always there to help and I couldn’t have done this without them.”
And as a reward for his efforts, Gary has treated himself to a motorbike – a luxury item he couldn’t have enjoyed riding just a couple of years ago.