Hello Sven, please introduce yourself to EASO
Hi, my name is Sven Schubert. I am a 37 year old German software engineer and I have lived with obesity all of my life.
I moved to Ireland from Germany in my early 20s, and have been living in and around Dublin ever since.
A big computer nerd, I love science fiction and history. I speak German, English, some French, Czech, tiny bits of Dutch, Norwegian, Polish and Russian and am currently trying to learn Irish and Mandarin. I thoroughly enjoy a good book at home as much as an adventurous road trip. Did I mention that I love and ride motorcycles?
Sven, please describe to our readers what your experience of obesity has been like
I have been morbidly obese from age 2 on-wards and with brief excursions into the “just overweight” designation during my growth-spurt years, and a self-imposed 40% weight-loss in 1 year as I stepped over the threshold to my 20s.
My weight yo-yo-ed and I reached a BMI of 85 in 2011, when I was admitted to hospital, put on a milk diet and in 2012 underwent gastric bypass surgery. I’ve lost 40% of my body weight since then, have hovered around a steady weight for 2-3 years and am currently battling complications from plastic surgery /skin reduction surgery earlier this year, which ironically sees my weight picking up again.
What are your hopes for the EASO Patient Council at the 2017 European Obesity Summit?
The challenges we’re faced with are for the most part not unique to a particular country or region. I hope we will find a common voice in communicating with the medical profession and can communicate effectively with relevant industry, including food and fitness, in furthering our endeavors. We want to create a respectful and well-informed environment in which patients can thrive and remain healthy or regain their health.
How do you currently advocate for patients and how do you intend to advocate for patients in the future?
Even before my surgery, I assisted at the local clinic, which is part of a university hospital, in educating their new medical students. I’ve told my story, shared my body and my soul, and would like to think I have made an impact, no pun intended.
In my early post-op days, I was also involved with patient self-help groups, albeit more as a user than a provider of assistance. I took part in an Irish TV documentary aptly named “The obesity clinic – last chance for weightloss” which aired in 2012 and has been rebroadcast a couple of times since. In future I would like to raise my activities to a wider audience and on a more organised level, which is why I joined ASOI and the EASO Patient Council. I will continue to develop and improve my amateur level knowledge of nutrition, physiology and psychology and hope to pursue advocacy and related human sciences academically.
Childhood and youth experiences of not fitting means fighting childhood obesity is a huge issue close to my heart. Having “lived” in a 200-300kg body for nearly a decade, and having experienced tremendous life changes following my weight loss surgery, I am convinced I can relate to some, if not most of the issues people with obesity have to overcome in everyday life. Reading up on the science of obesity in recent years has further shown me, that personal choice plays only a minor role in this complex minefield of genetic predisposition, environmental factors, food marketing and social pressure. I want to help improve patients’ lives and contribute to a better understanding of the disease that is obesity.