EASO Patient Council: June 2015

Marieke Aarts

We are delighted to welcome a new member to the EASO Patient Council.

Marieke, please tell us a bit about who you are:

My name is Marieke Aarts. I am a 48 year old woman from Holland, and I work as a Bariatric nurse. All of my life I have been overweight. Six years ago, I had a gastric bypass operation and lost 60 kgs. This changed my life completely.

I am the mother of two beautiful and talented children, Sophie (13) and Pieter (11). Last year my husband and I divorced.

For 28 years I have worked in the same hospital, and for the past 8 years I have worked as a bariatric nurse. I particularly find my work as a Bariatric Nurse here in the Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven, which is an excellent bariatric centre in the south of the Netherlands, very rewarding.

Tell us about your county and where you live:

As I think you are aware, the Netherlands is a small country near Germany.

There are many people with severe, morbid obesity people living in the Netherlands. We believe 360.000 among a population of 17 million people are obese. In addition, fully 48 % of the adult population has overweight.
So, we have much to do and very many people to reach!

Marieke, please share some of your favourite things (activities, hobbies, interests)

Of course my very favourite thing is my two children and my family. I will also mention my new relationship!

A great interest end hobby of mine remains is my work and my enduring passion as bariatric nurse.

I love to run, and participate in half marathons; I also like to go to football games. A quite activity I enjoy is reading a good book.

Please describe what your experience of obesity has been:

All of my life I have been overweight. By the time I was eleven years old my weight was already 80 kg. By the time I went to study as an adolescent, I started to drink beer, as many teens do, and my weight went up.

Following the birth of my children my weight reached a peak of 130 kg. it was then that I decided I was not setting a good example as a mother and being the rudder for their ship as I wanted to be. It was at that time the idea was born for bariatric surgery.

What are your hopes for the EASO Patient Council at the 2016 European Obesity Summit?

When I reach out and connect with one person by telling my story, it sometimes has the impact of changing his life, and inspiring him or her to choose quality of life. I am a person who tends to ‘go for it’ and I share my entire story with all my attendant insecurities and secrets!

How do you currently advocate for patients and how do you intend to advocate for patients in the future?

My practice and goals around advocacy are simple. I strive

  • To be myself!
  • To listen
  • Using evidence – based practice and research to inform my choices!

These are some of the reasons I find this organization (EASO) so important!
I am really glad and thankful to be a new member of the EASO Patient Council.

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