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Daily Record Article taken from site and paper on 2 October 2006

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Two sisters lost weight .. and discovered healthy eating has also helped their diabetic children


By Samantha Booth


SISTERS June Crawley and Jacqueline Stewart have lost more than seven stones between them - but doing so has meant far more to them than just being able to fit into size 10 jeans.


They believe shedding the pounds has not only helped them cope with each having a child diagnosed with diabetes within months of each other, but the lifestyle changes they made to lose weight are also saving their children from facing greater health problems in the future.


The mums are certain that they would have found it harder to deal with having diabetics in the family, if they had not already learned a lot about healthy eating through weight loss.


They are also sure that if their children's diets had not already changed for the better they would now be at far greater risk of developing more health problems, such as clogged arteries.


June, 41, of  Glasgow said: "If I had not been through everything I had in an attempt to lose weight, and in doing so learned all about eating healthily, I would never have understood about diabetes.


"And I know that, if the children had kept on eating the way they were before we started to diet, there would have been a much greater chance of them developing all the other health problems that type one diabetics such as Rachael and Joseph are at a higher risk of getting."


June piled on weight after the birth of Rachael 11 years ago, while Jacqueline, Joseph's mum, started putting on the pounds after her youngest daughter Amanda was born nine years ago.


Jacqueline said: "I had three kids and spent my whole time running about, so I never had any time to make myself anything proper to eat.


"I didn't have breakfast and was just grabbing crisps and sweets all the time."


June, who also has an older daughter, 13-year-old Sinead, fell into the same trap.


She said: "My problems started when I stopped breastfeeding.


"In just six months I put on about three stone because I had no time for myself - so I was eating anything I could find.

"If I did have breakfast, it would be a full fry-up and then, while I would make the kids something nice and healthy for lunch, I would eat chocolate.


"Then at nights we were always getting Chinese take-always and things - anything quick and which meant I didn't have to cook."


June's decision to lose weight finally came after a visit to the doctor.


Her health was so bad she was always thinking she had asthma or was about to suffer a heart attack.


Then one day her GP told her straight that everything she was experiencing was because of her weight.


June said: "My initial thought was how dare you and I remember walking out into the street and deliberately looking at people who were heavier than I was to make myself feel better.


"I will never forget that day... but the message did sink in and it was the beginning of my realisation that I had a problem with my weight."


Jacqueline remembers how her mum's high blood pressure played a big part in spurring them all on as a family to join Weight Watchers and try to shift the pounds.


She said: "Knowing mum was at risk because of her weight definitely had an impact but also remembering hearing that, if you were overweight at 30 you would be fat at 40, and I thought to myself that I didn't want to be a fat 40-year-old.


"Then I had to go to a christening and, because I had put on so much weight, I had to buy a size 18 jacket for the first time in my life.


"When I saw the video of that day I knew enough was enough."


Between them the sisters lost more than seven stone by swapping sugary treats for more fruit and veg and re-learning their eating habits.


June's weight dropped from 12 stone eight ounces to nine stone six and Jacqueline's fell from 12 stone five ounces to eight stone five.


In fact, June was so inspired by the help she received from Weight Watchers she now works for them, helping other slimmers as a team leader.


And the sisters' new healthy lifestyle has a had a positive effect on all the family, especially for Rachael and Joseph.


JACQUELINE said: "It has become a way of life for us all and there is no doubt having already become much healthier has played a big part in helping us deal with the children's diabetes.


"We have hardly had to change their diets at all because we had made such huge alterations to their eating habits anyway.


"They had been drinking only diet juices for a long time anyway, the amount of sweets and things they get had been cut down too and we were always telling them not to use spread on their toast."


Joseph was diagnosed with diabetes in December 2004.


He had been losing weight for some time but it was when the family were on holiday in Spain that he fell seriously ill.

Jacqueline said: "Before we went on holiday I could see he had lost weight but nobody could pinpoint exactly what was wrong with him.


"Then when we went away his health just seemed to spiral downwards. "He couldn't eat and kept collapsing. "The doctor initially said it was some kind of virus but Joseph kept getting worse and ended up in intensive care.


"He was so ill there were times I thought he wasn't going to make it, so when I discovered that it was diabetes he had, I was actually quite relieved. Still, we all know how lucky he is to be alive."


Rachael was diagnosed with the condition just 10 months later.


Mum June had noticed that her weight was going up and down and then, during the summer of 2005, all the little girl wanted to do was sleep.


June said: "There was lots of other little signs too but, despite what had happened to Joseph, I never thought for a minute it could be diabetes.


"In fact, I remember thinking when it happened to Joseph that it was lucky it was one of Jacqueline's children because she would cope better with it all than I ever could.


"Then Rachael lost a stone in weight in three weeks and came out in a rash so I had to phone the out-of-hours doctor and before we knew it she was in hospital being diagnosed with diabetes."


Jacqueline added: "The hospital say it's a coincidence, just bad luck to have two children in one family diagnosed at the same age within months of each other, but I can't help thinking that maybe the way we ate before played some part in it. At the same time I'm also pleased we made such an effort to lose weight and learn about food.


"I feel it has had a big impact on how we have handled the children's conditions."


June said: "We incorporated healthy eating into the lives of our children when we set out to lose weight and know now, if we had kept feeding them the way we were, things would have been far worse for them in the future."


Now, however, both families are the picture of health and June has even been inspired to join a charity trek through the Sorrento Peninsula next year to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.


She said: "After everything we've been through we're all more aware of our health in every way and it is the kind of the thing I wanted to do.


"Then earlier this year my cousin died after a long battle with cancer and a few days after the funeral this leaflet for the trek came through my door. I thought to myself life's too short and decided right away I was going to do it."