Bryan's story

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - If there's anyone who knows about obesity, it's Bryan Ganey. He grew from an overweight child into a morbidly obese adult.

"From about 5 years old I was a heavy kid," he said. "So I had all the problems as a heavy kid that you read about: the teasing, the bullying, the taunting, being made fun of, the horrible self-esteem, the depression, all of that."

By high school, he weighed 300 pounds.

"Now we have overweight children on a much larger scale, and that's sad," Bryan said.

In his 20s, desperation set in and he tried a crash diet. It worked - he lost 240 pounds - but it didn't last. He gained back all the weight, and added more pounds to it. He later documented his journey.

"It was humiliating.{}I gave up and figured I'd be fat the rest of my life," he said.

The eating and depression dragged on until at nearly 600 pounds, Bryan collapsed. His weight had literally crushed his health and was threatening his life.

It was a nurse who set him straight.

"My condition was unacceptable and I intended to do something about it," Bryan said.

It was in that moment that he decided he wasn't giving up on himself, but he was giving up on the quick fixes. There would be no drugs, no surgery, no fad diets. He went with what worked: a proper diet and a lot of exercise.

Before his 40th birthday, Bryan had lost nearly 300 pounds.

"I measured. It's a 74-inch waist I think," he said, holding up a pair of pants. The pants used to fit snugly; now they swallow him.

Four years later, he's down 400 pounds. He's a different man now, health conscious and paying attention to what a struggle food can be. He sees that struggle in the faces and bodies of kids, too.

"It breaks my heart to see it. Sometimes when I see a child in the grocery store and it's not that I think badly of the parent and certainly not badly of the child, it's just that they don't have the information," Bryan said.

That's why Bryan wrote a book and now spends a lot of his time visiting schools. His goal is to stop what he calls the cycle of negativity and shame.

"The problem with being a heavy kid is that you already feel like a social outcast. You're already depressed. {}You already know you have a problem. You're always well aware that you have a problem," he said. "They have to stop making overweight children feel shame at their condition. They're simply kids who weight too much. That's all, they're not bad people."

And he says eating should be emphasized, as strange as that seems.

"The fact of the matter is somebody who is overweight they may not be eating enough. The problem is they're eating all the wrong things. They're probably not eating breakfast; they're probably eating very high calorie, high sugar, high salt processed foods," Bryan said.

He doesn't blame the parents individually, either. He calls that a waste of time. He says the blame belongs to everyone collectively.

"I think we are dealing with the problem incorrectly, because our children are a creation of us. Our children eat what we buy them," he said. "Our children do what we do so it's our fault - childhood obesity is our problem that we created."

And he believes it is society's obligation to do something for our kids.

"I was an adult, I could make that choice. But you see a small child, it just tears your heart out," he said.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off