A new locally produced documentary series explores obesity in the Hastings by following the journey of Port Macquarie man Leigh Hardingham.
The team, headed by surgeon Dr George Petrou, took the initiative to offer the series as a gift to the community.
“We were driven to do this project because there is so much misinformation out there about obesity perpetuating constant myths about the disease,” says Louise Petrou, executive producer.
The touching stories of motivational Taree mother of three Mary-Clare Dangel and a Charles Sturt University student also feature. The theme is upbeat and educational.
The Mid North Coast has twice the number of people battling obesity (and the diseases associated with it) than that in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. It’s no different over the mountains in remote areas and rural cities and towns. With it travel killer diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.
‘Let’s Talk About Obesity’ is the first film in the series of four documentaries.
“Obesity is a disease that takes over the entirety of a person’s physiology,” says bariatric surgeon Dr Petrou.
“There is a misconception in our community that being obese is the fault of the person. This is simply untrue.”
The series was created by film maker Scott Tompson who is responsible for programs like Poh & Co, Bush Doctor and the Destination Flavour series on SBS.
Leigh Hardingham is a former ABC Radio sports commentator and director at Port City Bowling Club who features throughout the documentaries.
Leigh battled obesity for years before turning to surgical treatment.
He was on 11 different medications before his operation.
Leigh discusses his many weight loss attempts with gimmicky products and expensive, hard to sustain gym program goals.
“Anyone who lost weight on one of those vibrating things… well it must have been a bloody accident!” he said.
The series also features opinion from two respected Port Macquarie GPs. Dr Andrew Williams and Dr Adam King who treat serious weight related health issues daily in their practices.
The second film, Let’s Talk About Surgery, helps dispel the anxiety for patients undergoing surgery. The film follows Dr Petrou’s youngest patient through surgery and beyond. In addition, surgical treatments are explained with simple animations.
In the third film, Life After Surgery, patients explain what it’s like to eat, live and love after surgery.
“I wanted to get the message out that people don’t have to struggle, that you enjoy socialising more and eat normal food after surgery, just less of it,” Leigh said.
Two women featured are from different life stages. Mary-Clare Dangel is a mother of three, mid career, who has completely changed her lifestyle, a local superstar at her gym.
“Life is too short for regrets and life is too short to sit around feeling sorry for yourself,” Mary said.
Dietitian Emma Schwarzkopf is featured in the fourth episode preparing a delicious post op meal typical of what a person might eat after surgery.