A GROUNDBREAKING documentary aims to explore obesity from an all new perspective… by filming an autopsy on a 17-stone corpse.
Obesity: The Post Mortem offers a stomach-churning insight into how damaging our modern lifestyles can be, with grim scenes showing how our bodies struggle to cope when overloaded with fat.
The BBC documentary sees doctors cut open a 17 stone woman to show the effect obesity has on the human body.
The clinically obese subject, from Long Beach in California, had donated her body to science before she died of heart failure in her early 60s.
To show how obesity had affected her inner workings, doctors let TV crews film the autopsy, which saw patholgists come across weak organs and huge deposits of neon yellow fat.
The fat apparently “felt like butter with a mesh going through it,” according to one of the doctor’s performing the autopsy.
Carla Valentine, technical curator of the museum of pathology at Queen Mary University, instantly noted the excess reserves of fat around the woman’s belly.
She said: “I needed a lot more strength to cut through the tissue, which kind of bloomed out in neon yellow.”
Meanwhile, the woman’s heart was in shockingly bad shape, with paper-thin walls despite being bloated to an abnormally large size.
Leading pathologist Mike Osborn, who conducted the autopsy, said: “The heart feels baggy. When you pick up the heart of someone fit it would be tight and hard – like picking up a piece of steak. This is more like a bag.
“The heart has to pump to keep up the pressure but there comes a point when the heart can’t get any bigger and it exhausts itself.
“This heart has gone from a thick muscle to a paper bag that is not able to pump blood around the body.”
And the liver wasn’t any better, featuring a mushy consistency associated with obesity.
Dr Osborn said: “The first thing I saw in the liver marked ‘fatty change’.
“It was pinky, soft, like pâté. A normal liver is quite soft but not as soft and is much more meaty – the pink in this liver is the fat.”
The woman wasn’t a big drinker before she died, meaning the weak state of her organs was largely down to her dietary and exercise habits.
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One of the most shocking scenes saw pathologists examine the woman’s struggling lungs, which were leaking fluid – a sign of pulmonary oedema as a result of her heart failure.
As the heart fails, excess liquid backs up in the lungs, which Dr Osborn said “would have given a sensation of drowning.”
The woman’s bloated kidneys also pointed to an unhealthy lifestyle, with the organs containing two or even three times more fat than the typical person.
Dr Osborn said: “The surface should be smooth but there was some scaring on the surface and indentation and pock marking.”
Obesity: The Post Mortem is available on BBC Three from Tuesday 13 September.
Recently, The Sun shared the story of a 24-stone woman who shocked herself into losing weight after being left mortified by seeing an unflattering photo of herself as ‘the fat bridesmaid’.
And another woman got the kick she needed to turn her life around after being told that she was too obese to fall pregnant.