From 150kg to 88kg: How this man lost almost half his weight
JOSH Esmond knew he had to make a change when his 10-year-old son said he didn't want his dad to die.
Today, he is in training, bodybuilding and powerlifting; he has competitions in the coming months. It's hard to believe that less than two years ago he tipped the scales at 150kg, suffered anxiety and depression and ate and drank "copiously".
Now weighing in at a trim 88kg Mr Esmond is almost half the man he used to be and his son "loves it because I'm doing things with him like riding bikes and swimming".
But the inspirational transformation goes against the trend of his hometown Mackay of the past decade, where overweight and obesity rates have increased to 83.4 per cent of the adult population, up from 76.8 per cent in 2011-12, and 71.6 per cent in 2007-08.
New findings in the Progress in Australian Regions Report, produced by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, reveals that Mackay is now by far the fattest region in Queensland.
Federal MP George Christensen is well known for his battle with obesity and said "it comes down to choices."
"As someone who made lots of poor eating choices and exercise choices, I know that," he said.
"If people are going to hold out hope that government is going to come along and fix the obesity problem then we're not going to get the obesity problem fixed.
"I don't know that government can fix it, it comes down to personal choices."
As minister for Sport and Rural Health, and a former physical education teacher, Federal MP Bridget McKenzie said sporting clubs have a major role to play in combating obesity.
"It's about ensuring local clubs are opening, welcoming and inclusive, and have a range of programs that no matter your skill level or ability or body size you're able to get out and get active."
"If you are suffering from obesity being part of a highly competitive club environment is not the way you are going to start getting physically active," she said.
"Getting started was the hardest part", Mr Esmond said, but he got through it by training in the gym once a week, increasing the frequency over several months.
Now training five or six times a week, mainly lifting weights rather than cardio training, his body fat has dropped below 10 per cent from a high of 46 per cent.
One of the best things about getting into the gym and losing weight is the friends he has made.
Dr David Farlow, of Mackay Hospital and Health Services, works on health promotion strategies targeting obesity and diabetes, and said the impact of high rates of obesity was evident every day.
"Being overweight or obese increases the risk of high blood pressure, muscle, bone and respiratory disorders and chronic disease including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers and reduces life expectancy," he said.
Asked why the Mackay region had particularly startling rates, Dr Farlow said the reasons were not fully understood. "We know good health is linked to socio-economic conditions, lifestyle choices and mental health," he said.
"Mackay also has a significant number of shift-workers who work away from home and this roster pattern makes healthier eating choices and regular exercise more difficult to achieve."
Mr Esmond, who works as a fire technician travelling between Mackay and central Queensland, says the cost of food was a significant factor in why he put on so much weight in the first instance.
"The cost of fresh food is crazy," he said.
"I was eating takeaway. I could eat 24 chicken nuggets in one sitting and half-an-hour later be hungry again. I didn't eat salad or veges, I'd eat deep fried anything with chips."
He now eats a lot of frozen vegetables, which he says are cheaper than fresh, and while still eating a lot of food, he sticks to a "well controlled" low calorie diet.
Mr Esmond also took photos every month to stay motivated and "track how I was travelling".
He also plans to study personal training this year to help those who also struggle with their weight