Viewers of Shut In: Britain’s Fattest People last night accused a ‘controlling’ mother of ‘abuse’ after it was revealed she sleeps in the same room as her 41st child and doesn’t want the 24-year-old to move out.
AJ, 24, from Airdrie, Scotland, who identifies as non-binary, appeared on the Channel 4 programme last night alongside their mother Sharon, 44, who cooked for them, helped them shower, and even slept in the same room.
But after bariatric surgeon Professor Kerrigan said Sharon’s ‘controlling’ behaviour meant a weight loss operation could be ‘a waste of time’ for AJ, the mother-of-two rushed from their appointment in floods of tears.
Professor Kerrigan later told the camera it was ‘really interesting’ to see how AJ had responded when someone was ‘really direct’ with Sharon, adding: ‘I think AJ is up for this. Mum….I’m less sure of.’
Many of those watching at home said Sharon’s behaviour had left them feeling concerned, with one writing: ‘I honestly hope this ends well. This mother is clearly very unwell. Someone should have stepped in years ago to stop the mother’s abuse.
Viewers of Shut In: Britain’s Fattest People last night accused Sharon, 44, from Airdrie of ‘abuse’ after her child AJ, 24, ballooned to 41st in weight
During the documentary, AJ said they spent up to 19 hours a day lying on a mattress on the floor of their living room
‘Good old dad hardly chips in. I hope he turns his life around and finds happiness.’
One viewer wrote: ‘I hope AJ’s mother was silent during that walk because she is truly embarrassed of what she’s done to her own child #Abuser.’
AJ’s weight problems began at an early age, with Sharon explaining: ‘I was a busy mum and I would do the cheap dinners you get in the supermarket.’
It was around the age of 12, when AJ already weighed 12st, that they were targeted by bullies.
Viewers were left horrified by the programme, with many accusing Sharon of being ‘very unwell’ and ‘abusive’
Sharon explained: ‘Some of the lads at the time would think it was funny to kick the football against her head. Really, really cruel words.
‘I know as a parent, we should have said, no we’re not having the chocolate or crisps. But when your child is coming home so upset, a kiss and a cuddle will only go so far.’
Meanwhile four years ago, AJ, who was born Amy, started identifying as non binary and preferring to use the pronouns they instead of she.
They said: ‘My body doesn’t reflect who I am because my body still has the female attire.
AJ explained they have not left the house in years and tried to avoid spending time outside because of looks and stares from others
‘What I want now is a mastectomy and a hystorectomy. I want to be flat as a piece of paper. I just want to be me. Just me.’
But because AJ weighed 41st, any gender reassignment surgery was considered too dangerous.
Their mother Sharon, who called AJ ‘Amy’ throughout the programme and used she/her pronouns, said: ‘I know I keep referring to her as Amy and her, but it’s so alien to call her AJ.
‘I’m not up to speed. I understand you are who you are. It’s 23 years, you can’t just change and it’s going to be hard.’
Meanwhile mother-of-two Sharon washed their body in the shower, bought all the food and cooked the meals
Meanwhile the 24-year-old explained they had barely left the house in four years because they found daily life such a struggle.
Sharon washed their body in the shower, bought all the food and cooked all the meals for the family, with AJ consuming around 5,000 calories a day.
She said: ‘My role at the moment is, I’m mother to a giant baby. It breaks your heart to see your child like this, it really does.
‘Never been a breakfast, lunch, dinner kind of family. There’s nothing really that AJ doesn’t like.’
AJ, who weighs 41st and has a BMI of 95, said they wanted life to be ‘different’ and hoped to lose weight to be able to learn to drive
Meanwhile AJ said: ‘I’m not a fussy person, II’ll eat whatever has been made.’
AJ ate dinner kneeling at the counter, explaining: ‘I need to be lower down. I can’t be higher than the work top because I don’t find it comfy.
They then spend up to 19 hours a day on a mattress in a living room, saying: ‘I’ve been shut up like this for about six years.
‘Looking at the same four walls, not being able to go out. I want life to be different, to be able to play football and drive like normal people do.’
Sharon compared her child to a ‘very large baby’ and said she had been helping them shower for several years
Sharon said: ‘I know a lot of people would say, “You’re the mother, it’s your fault.” Hands up. I totally agree with you. Partly it is my fault, yeah.’
AJ’s evenings were spent on the same mattress as during the day but they had to sleep propped up on a pile of pillows to help them breathe.
Sharon slept on a mattress next to her child, saying: ‘I know it’s not ideal, and I know a young person of AJ’s age shouldn’t be in that situation but I’d rather that than go in and it be too late.’
WHAT IS BARIATRIC SURGERY?
Bariatric surgery is a variety of procedures designed to help a patient lose weight.
Surgeries include reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band, or removing part of the stomach through a gastric sleeve.
It also includes gastric bypass surgery, in which surgeons reroute the intestine to a small stomach pouch which shrinks the stomach.
But with AJ’s weight spiralling further and further out of control, the family travelled to see psychologist Dr Laura Williams to understand why there has been so much over eating.
AJ described their feelings as ‘a pressure cooker’, saying: ‘It frightens me because I don’t really talk about my feelings.’
Speaking to Laura, they said they wanted to be ‘healthier’ and ‘more outgoing’, saying: ‘To be able to drive and then I can go places on my own.’
They discussed their school experience, with AJ bursting into tears and saying it was ‘a disaster.’
They added that they felt close to their mother, explaining they were ‘best pals.’
After the appointment, the duo were looking forward to their first trip to see Professor Kerrigan about a potential weight loss surgery.
Sharon said she was pinning all her hopes on the operation, saying: ‘If it doesn’t go ahead, I really don’t know what we’re going to do.
‘I think it’ll just be the end to be honest with you. I think she’ll just give up.’
In October 2019, AJ travelled to Chester to meet Professor Kerrigan to learn if it was possible to have a surgical solution to their 41st weight.
Speaking with the doctor alongside Sharon, AJ explained they wanted their ‘health back’, saying: ‘Then I can be independent.’
But after Professor Kerrigan suggested AJ might ‘fly the nest’, Sharon insisted that would not be happening.
She said there would be ‘no flying the nest’, adding: ‘It’s about getting her independence back, going to the toilet on her own etc.’
AJ, who weighed 12st at the age of 12, struggled with her weight throughout childhood and piled on the pounds after being bullied
Professor Kerrigan questioned how AJ had gained 67 kilos in a very short amount of time, asking the pair: ‘You’re both living in the same house. Sharon, are you the main cook? AJ, do you cook at all, do you do the shopping?’
Speaking directly to Sharon, he said: ‘That shopping that allowed AJ to gain the weight of a whole person in less than a year…you were contributing to that.’
Sharon said: ‘I do take full blame for it. Everything I was going through, with depression and anxiety.’
The doctor said the operation ‘could be a waste of time anyway’ because of the things that Sharon is doing, leaving the mother in floods of tears.
The 24-year-old was left unable to speak and in floods of tears after a psychologist questioned them about their time in school
She fled the room, with Professor Kerrigan saying to AJ: ‘Has anyone ever pointed that out to your mum before?
‘If we can get you through this safely…what do you feel about you, taking more of a role in the cooking at home and what you do? Right now, your mum is in control.’
During a second appointment with the psychologist, Sharon said she had been left upset by what Professor Kerrigan had said.
She explained: ‘It was sort of like…he told me what I already knew and I ended up getting upset and walking out. It was the case it’s not just down to this one.
Later, Sharon said she had been left upset by Professor Kerrigan’s suggestion that AJ might want to live a more independent life
‘It kind of hurt, hearing it from someone else.’
Sharon continued: ‘Something else that struck hard with me. They were saying about her independence and she needs to go off and do things herself…
‘I understand that but not everyone is the same. She wants to stay at home and be around her family unit.’
Viewers were highly critical of Sharon, with one saying: ‘Of course these sessions have been eye opening to the mother, she is learning more ways to control her son.
AJ was unable to look at their mother after she said they wanted to ‘stay at home’ and ‘be around the family unit’ during a psychology session
‘Run AJ. She wouldn’t listen to you when you were a child, why would she now?’
Another said: ‘The mother has it to answer for. AJ doesn’t even look like they are enjoying the food.’
A third wrote: ‘This kids weight is only half the problem, the other half is the grip their mum has on them. Escape and Aj would stand a chance.’