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Success story: "Giving up was not an option for me!"
Success story: "Giving up was not an option for me!"

-20 kilos: Sara has been fighting tirelessly against excess kilos since she was ten. Now, thanks to modern weight loss medicine, she is finally enjoying success.

Sara Kuster had a hard life her whole life - in the truest sense of the word - she put on weight a lot from a young age. The diagnosis? Obesity. She is not alone in this: around 1.3 million Austrians share their fate and with it the daily fight against stigmatization. About the difficult path to lightness.

Encourager. Today Sara is open about her former problem. "Talking about my illness and my weight loss gives me strength - and hopefully others too."
Encourager. Today Sara is open about her former problem. "Talking about my illness and my weight loss gives me strength - and hopefully others too."

The big WOMAN themed special for your feel-good weight

Fat pig”, it echoes through the bus when Sara Kuster is rushing to the aid of a woman who is apparently involved in a violent argument with a man. Sara's question as to whether she should call the police or can help in some other way is drowned out in the reverberation of the man's voice. The "fat pig" was for her. What follows is silence: because Sara, who is the only one on the bus who has shown courage, does not help anyone. “Shut your mouth”, the man's voice breaks the silence. "As fat and ugly as you are, nobody will attack you anyway." Sara now stands there petrified; exposed to the gaze of others. She, who was just about to help, was a target herself. For Sara it is one of the worst experiences of her life - the tip of the iceberg.

»-20 kilos: Sara has been fighting tirelessly against excess kilos since she was ten. Now, thanks to modern weight loss medicine, she is finally enjoying success."

Not normal"

Animated whispers, judgmental looks and even verbal abuse are anything but alien to Sara - for a long time they dominated her everyday life. The now 36-year-old does not remember a life without stigmatization, her “normal life”. “That ended when I was nine years old,” she says. At that time it had inexplicably increased suddenly. "From then on I got the feeling that I wasn't normal."

Until she came of age, Sara found it difficult to maintain her weight of around 65 kilograms - "Then the jump came to over 80, before it continued to climb year after year," she says. She weighed 106 kilos at peak times. With the pounds, the level of suffering also increased. During school days, insults like “whale” or “water polo” were the order of the day. “The constant bullying went so far that I often had to struggle with suicidal thoughts,” she recalls. In addition, there was the prejudice by family and friends - the worst for Sara: "Mostly under the guise of concern for my health, I was advised to finally do something - the bottom line was that this was hurtful criticism of myself, of me." Of course, she didn't let it show: "Whenever it came to my weight, I tried to hide my insecurity and shame behind humor." But the feeling of "not fitting in" - in our society, in which "slim" that The ideal of beauty defined as having no space - stayed and grew stronger; self-esteem became increasingly weaker.

"Despite never-ending attempts to lose weight and 23 years of competitive sport, I have never lost weight in the long term."

Not alone and yet alone …


Sara is anything but alone with her problem: More than half of the population over 15 years of age in this country is overweight and therefore from the health and psychological consequences of the kilos - 42 percent of women and 59 percent of men are affected. If you take a closer look, 11 percent of women and 18 percent of men in this country are actually too heavy. You suffer from obesity, also known as obesity.

The number of obese children shows that there are more and more - around ten percent are affected. This number is expected to double by 2025. If you take into account that around 80 percent of all overweight children will also be overweight later in adulthood, it becomes clear where the trend is going. The problem? Serious. Contrary to what is often assumed, obesity is a complex, chronic disease. The World Health Organization, or WHO for short, even goes a step further and declares pathological excess to be one of the greatest health problems of our time - after all, it kills around 2.8 million people every year.

The measure of all things?

However, an increased BMI alone does not need to be a cause for concern - especially people with a lot of muscle mass, which is particularly heavy due to their composition and density, are often overweight by definition, but do not show an increased health risk. Since the BMI says little about the body fat distribution and percentage, the survey of the waist and hip circumference represents an essential part of the obesity diagnosis and the assessment of the individual risk.

Apple or brine?

Why this is so important: When you gain weight, fat tissue is stored differently in different parts of the body. In addition to hormones, our genes are primarily responsible for this. You decide whether we tend to put on the thighs or start around the middle of the body - whether we are pear or apple types. The type, the fat distribution pattern, ultimately provides a conclusion about the individual health risk: While the so-called gynoid, the female, fat distribution by increased fat deposits on the hips, thighs and buttocks characterizes the less dangerous pear type, the android, the male, Fat distribution the fat in the abdominal region. This so-called visceral fat distribution pattern characterizes the apple type and represents an increased health risk. Unlike the pear type, the fat is not stored subcutaneously, i.e. under the skin, but intra-abdominally, i.e. around and in the organs in the abdominal cavity, and thus increases the risk of accompanying and secondary diseases.

In order to be able to better assess the individual risk of body fat distribution, the quotient of waist and hip circumference, the so-called "Waist-to-Hip-Ratio" (WHR), is determined. If this is above 0.9 in men and above 0.85 in women, an increased risk of the disease can be assumed. The waist circumference at navel height provides a similarly precise way of assessing risk. If this exceeds 88 centimeters for women or 102 centimeters for men, this indicates intra-abdominal fat distribution and thus an increased health risk.

The bad belly fat

But why is the fat in the stomach so dangerous? What medicine did not know for a long time is that visceral fat is the largest endocrine organ in our body - in other words, it influences our hormonal balance through the production of special messenger substances and is therefore, unlike other "problem areas", particularly metabolic. active. Some of these hormones set in motion inflammatory processes that affect the entire organism. The risk of secondary diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, but also of specific cancers, increases.

The insidious: Many of the processes run unnoticed and only cause complaints when the resulting diseases manifest themselves. Many obesity sufferers do not feel sick at first. So did Sara, who was well aware of the danger of the kilos, but never felt sick herself.

"In addition to the numbers on the scales, one thing in particular has changed as a result of the weight reduction - my self-perception."

"It's your own fault!"

She already suspected that she was actually affected by obesity. But she didn't want to admit it: “My family doctor was the first to say that I was obese. It was like a slap in the face, especially since I didn't know myself any other way,”the 36-year-old tells us. Like so many others before, he advised her to eat less and do more exercise. For Sara, who despite never-ending attempts to lose weight and 23 years of competitive sport - including twelve years of volleyball and eleven years of football, two of which were on the women's national team - only lost weight for a short period of time, this is another debilitation. “Although he saw that I was very athletic, he still only advised me to exercise and reduce calories. The latter was no longer possible”, says Sara, who was counting calories at the time and was just getting through the day with 1,200 calories. "Less would no longer be possible if you want to function in everyday life, or rather if you have to function." To this day, she is convinced that her doctor at the time thought that she was lying to him and herself. "I never felt that my problem was taken seriously."

To trust. In Dr. Yvonne Winhofer-Stöckl has finally found a doctor for Sara who understands her problem and sees her as a patient. With her and modern weight loss medicine, Sara has managed to lose over 20 kilos
To trust. In Dr. Yvonne Winhofer-Stöckl has finally found a doctor for Sara who understands her problem and sees her as a patient. With her and modern weight loss medicine, Sara has managed to lose over 20 kilos

A problem that Sara shares with many fellow sufferers. Many of those affected struggle with irony. Because unlike other diseases, many people feel empowered to give medical advice. “Everyone thinks they have to come up with 'good advice' and semi-medical wisdom,” says Sara. The exciting thing: “Most of the time it's people who have never struggled with being overweight, let alone have anything to do with obesity, but who naturally and unsolicitedly serve you a change in diet and sports program as a life changer on a silver platter. Thanks for that,”she jokes.

What they suggest to those affected is one thing above all - that they are to blame for their own situation. A thought pattern that Sara has also adopted: "If you keep hearing that losing weight is so easy, at some point you inevitably begin to doubt yourself and your discipline - after all, everyone else apparently manages it too." That it The 36-year-old is not lacking in discipline, shows not only her sporting career but also her professional career - the production manager of a large TV format completed two master’s degrees with no problems. But in spite of all the other successes Sara always looked for the mistake at the end of the day: "Although you know that you are ultimately not alone with your problem, you still feel that way - after all, it is 'your own fault'."

One disease, many causes

The findings of recent years of intensive research show that those affected are not exactly that. The progress of medicine has made it clear that the development of the chronic disease is a complex interaction of the most varied of factors.

»X2. The number of obese children will double by 2025. 80 percent of them will be overweight adults."

Multifactorial causes

For example, genetic, physiological, environmental and psychological factors as well as the social environment can be decisive for the development of obesity. Even if the complexity of the disease is often incomprehensible to outsiders, by trivializing the treatment - “eat less and exercise more” - one should in no way deny those affected the help they urgently need. What is needed for this is awareness of the topic and understanding of the mechanisms behind it. One who understands these mechanisms is internist and endocrinologist Yvonne Winhofer-Stöckl.

Seek help

In her, Sara has finally found the long-awaited support after years of struggling with the weight alone. The way there was not an easy one: “It took years before I became aware of the metabolic outpatient clinic via detours - the biggest problem is actually the ignorance of who to turn to; who understands you."

The metabolic outpatient clinic was the right place to go for Sara: “Here I have Dr. Got to know Winhofer-Stöckl, who saw me for the first time as a patient with a medical problem - based on my story, she was immediately convinced that there had to be a medical trigger.”This positive response was exactly what she received after all these years of rejection needed. Today the 36-year-old knows that her "problem" is anything but her own fault.

It is now clear: In addition to the genetics factor - several close family members had more or less to contend with weight problems - Sara suffers from chronic inflammation of the thyroid, which has hormonal effects and is often associated with severe weight disorders. She was also diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, PCO for short, with existing insulin resistance: “This leads to an increase in both male and female sex hormones, which have a direct influence on the metabolism and thus promote obesity. The insidious thing, however, "continues Sara," is that the PCO worsens when you are overweight - a vicious circle."

Do not let it get you

With the help of her doctor and the possibilities of modern weight loss medicine, Sara has now managed to escape this downward spiral. She has lost 20 kilos since November last year. Not the only success for the young woman: "In addition to the numbers on the scales and the improvement in my blood sugar levels, one thing in particular has changed as a result of the weight reduction - my self-perception," she proudly tells us. She, who struggled with herself all her life, finally feels good in her body. “I can finally buy the clothes I always wanted to wear and no longer have to wear what was currently available in my size. This not only makes me feel prettier and stronger than before, but can finally find my style and thus express my personality."

The only thing that has increased in the last few months is her self-confidence: “Today I will not allow myself to be reduced to my weight anymore,” she says proudly. It no longer conforms to what once constrained it: our society.

“I do things that I used to do without for fear of being ridiculed. For example, in order to fulfill my lifelong dream of bungee jumping, my old self had to travel halfway around the world to New Zealand. At that time I would never have dared to do this because the weight is written on the back of the hand with a thick felt pen before the jump - easily legible for everyone. But there I was able to completely reinvent myself; was no longer the 'fat Sara' I was here in this company. I was detached from the environment that made me what I thought I was for a long time. But today I know that I am more - I can wear short dresses here, eat fast food, swim, dance, sing and just be loud. I can just be completely normal."

The BMI calculator

The body mass index, or BMI for short, serves as a key figure for assessing body weight and thus assessing the individual health risk. Since the body composition is not taken into account, the BMI is only of limited significance. It puts body size and weight in relation and is calculated using the following formula:

BMI = weight in kg / (height in m) 2


"> 30: A body mass index of over 30 points provides the basis for defining obesity."

What does the BMI mean?

Here's the key:

BMI <18, 5: underweight

Too little body weight is also a health risk - for example for cardiovascular diseases.

BMI 18, 5-24, 9: normal weight

Your BMI is in the normal range. Studies show that this is where the health risk is lowest.

BMI 25–29, 9: overweight

Eat a healthy diet and get enough exercise! Professional care from a nutritionist can help you reach your weight goal.

BMI 30–34, 9: Obesity grade I

Your risk of weight-related illness is greatly increased. Let us advise you!

BMI 35–39, 9: Obesity grade II

Your excess weight is bad for your health! You should seek medical advice.

BMI> 40: Obesity grade III

Secondary illnesses are highly likely. There is an urgent need for action.

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