At just 18 years old, Bethany Churcher weighed 32 stone and was told she would be dead in six months.
The teenager’s size meant she had already suffered a mini stroke and needed emergency surgery on her gall bladder, an operation doctors warned her family she may not survive.
Miss Churcher, from Beaulieu in Hampshire, was diagnosed with compulsive eating disorder at age 14, when she weighed a huge 18 stone.
By the age of 16, she had ballooned to 25 stone and wore size 26 clothes after secretly eating packets of crisps in her room.
Keen to lose weight, she visited the doctors and pretended she was 18 so she would be eligible for gastric bypass surgery.
Her parents, Amanda and Neil Churcher, now 47 and 49, found out about this and banned her from having surgery.
But when she was warned if she did not lose weight she would die, doctors agreed she could have the £5,000 taxpayer-funded surgery.
It was successful but she was left with 10Ibs (4.5kg) of excess skin which she privately paid £10,000 to have sliced off, after moaning she ‘looked like an old woman’.
Now 16 stone and a size 16, Miss Churcher is happier than ever – and working as a model.
Speaking publically for the first time, the now 21-year-old said she wants to help others with compulsive eating disorder.
‘I am a cautionary tale,’ she said. ‘I don’t want others to be like me.’
She spoke out as Britain’s fattest man, 65-stone Carl Thompson, died aged just 33 at home in Dover, Kent, from an obesity-related illness.
Miss Churcher, who has a brother, Joshua, 25, and sister, Hannah, 26, said: ‘It terrifies me I could get that big again.
‘But I’ve promised myself I won’t let that happen.
‘I don’t want to put my life at risk.’
Now, she is working with young people, trying to ensure they can get help earlier if they have problems, rather than turning to food.
Miss Churcher said: ‘My compulsive eating was all to do with how I was feeling.
‘If something upset me, I comfort ate.
‘I ate and ate until food became the only thing that made me happy.
‘I hated how I looked, but by the time I was 14 I was so big I thought it would take forever to lose weight – so it was easier to continue eating.’
She claimed the operation was not the easy way out, saying: ‘After the operation my need to eat didn’t go away overnight.
‘I craved chocolate and crisps, but the surgery meant now I couldn’t longer stuff myself.
‘Sometimes I tried to gorge, but it just gave me an upset stomach.’
Her mother, who was 22-stone, but lost 8 stone after being inspired by her daughter, added: ‘We never wanted our kids rebelling and gorging on junk food in secret so we let them have crisps or chocolate as a treat. But that’s what Bethany did.
‘When we confronted her she burst into tears and said she couldn’t stop eating.
‘So she started to see a counsellor.
‘She was so upset with her body though, she turned to food to cheer herself up.
‘She said food was the only thing that made her happy.’
Mrs Churcher described the situation as ‘heartbreaking’.
She continued: ‘Bethany wanted to look like her friends, not a size 22, and struggle not to breathe when she walked.
‘But I couldn’t watch her 24/7 and she confessed that she continued to snack in secret.
‘I suggested going on a diet and her brother offered to take her to the gym.
‘But she said everyone stared at her on the running machine and she never went back.’
Mrs Churcher was shocked after learning her daughter had secretly visited the doctor to enquire about bariatric surgery.
‘I was devastated she wanted to go to such extremes,’ she said. ‘She weighed 32 stone and begged me for surgery but I had to say no. She was only 17.