EASO Patient Council: September 2015

EASO Patient Council: September 2015

Hello Steffy, it’s always a pleasure to welcome a new member to the EASO Patient Council. Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Stefanie Wirtz – everyone calls me Steffy. I was born in 1976 in Essen, Germany. I work as a dispatcher at the largest marshalling yard in

Europe. A marshalling yard is a large railway yard in which freight wagons are organised into trains. I work near Maschen in the south of Hamburg. I am married and have a teenage daughter.

Please describe your county and where you live:

I live in Germany, just a few kilometres outside of Hamburg. Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and the eighth largest city in the EU. It is also the thirteenth largest German state with a population of over 1.7 million people. It is a major transport hub and also a popular tourist destination.

Steffy, please share some of your favourite activities, hobbies and interests:

I like to read and test new baking recipes to relax. When I have time I enjoy participating in sports and gardening.

I love to swim and feel at my very best in the water. My favourite destinations and activities include relaxing with a book on the Baltic Sea beach and autumn hiking through the vineyards in Rhineland Palatinate.

When possible, we visit friends in Hurghada (Egypt).

Please share with us what your experience of obesity has been like:

When I was six years old, my ‘baby fat’ became seen as overweight. Since then, my weight increased more with each passing year. In 2009 I had gastric bypass surgery and became involved and engaged for the time in self-help. With the gastric bypass procedure, I lost 85 kg; I have to work every day to keep the weight off.

In 2013, together with others, I helped found the AdipositasHilfe Nord e.V.

A nonprofit organisation, the group includes self-help programmes which support people experiencing obese and continues to accompany and help them them along their journey.

We “fight” for obese people to receive proper medical treatment in Germany. It’s a long hard road, but we are not alone. We associate with other self-help

organisations. The crucial problem before now has been this: obese people have no lobbying support.

What are your hopes for the upcoming European Obesity Summit in June 2016?:

As I am a new member of the EASO Patient Council I have not thus far participated in ECO events. I look forward to working with other members from across Europe to improve the situation for people suffering from obesity. In the future, I hope to learn from other nations’ experience and am sure my association will benefit from the wide ranging experience from around Europe.

Since 2009 I have supported obese people I work with, using self-help advice and programmes. In September 2013, we joined together with the club (www.adipositashilfe-nord.de) that set up counselling centres for obese people, and so far we support 500 people – free of charge. In the coming years we will focus more attention children and youth. We often start providing assistance and support too late; this should change.

I look forward to meeting and spending time with many new and interesting members from around Europe. So far I am really enjoying the experience.