He used to polish off toast for breakfast, before tucking into six sandwiches and a pork pie at lunch and enjoying a takeaway for tea before finishing off with a packet of biscuits.
But after former binman Steve Hancock developed a deadly condition which stopped him breathing while asleep, he shed half his body weight – and has now travelled to meet MPs to launch an awareness campaign.
He dropped from almost 30 stones to his current 16 stones and four pounds in 19 months by changing his diet after starting to suffer from sleep apnoea, which disrupts sleep and causes acute tiredness. People with the condition are also at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
The 49-year-old from Wolverhampton has now met with MPs to raise awareness of the condition and highlight the dangers for people who work in the transport industry.
Mr Hancock, who is now an HGV driver, said: “They are pushing now for the big haulage firms to screen drivers and have CPAP machines, which blows lukewarm air into your mouth and keeps your airways clean.”
During his meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Adult and Childhood Obesity and Freight Transport on Tuesday, he had also hoped to highlight how expensive healthy food is, but didn’t get enough time.
He said: “A lot of people have said to me, ‘I bet you’re saving money,’ but no, it’s actually double the outlay.
“I can go and get greasy fish and chips for a couple of quid. If I get a healthy salad it’s double the price. Why do they make the healthy food so expensive?” Since adopting a new healthy lifestyle, Steve will no longer touch chocolate or alcohol and cooks using fresh ingredients.
He had begun putting on weight after his job switched from walking behind the Wolverhampton City Council rubbish trucks to driving them.
The sleep apnoea saw father-of-one Mr Hancock, of Helming Drive, East Park, stop breathing up to 82 times an hour each night and he had to rely on a cumbersome oxygen mask attached to a cylinder by the bed.
His wife Jane had been nagging him to lose weight for months and told him about her hairdresser, who had slimmed down. She introduced him to her Cambridge Weight Plan consultant Lynn Taylor, who helped Mr Hancock work out a new diet. While Mr Hancock, who is now a driver for Jack Moody Ltd, was battling his weight, his father was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He died in August 2011.
Mr Hancock said: “Every week I would go and see him straight from my weigh-in and he’d be so pleased for me when I’d tell him my loss for that week. He used to say, ‘I don’t want you to end up like me.’ For my dad’s sake, I vowed not to get as big as what I was again.”Subscribe to our Newsletter