Manuel Uribe Garza, thought to be the world's fattest man, had weighed a humongous 560 kg, over half a ton. But he has been able to shed in just over a year as much as 180 kg as a consequence of some well monitored dieting.
Seven fully grown men in all, standing in a line. That was how he used to look like. Now two men could be said to have gone out of his body! No-one knows for sure why Manuel joined the ranks of the hyper-obese, or morbidly obese, as his doctors call it. He lived for 14 years in Dallas, Texas, and he himself blames an unending diet of burgers, pizzas and fizzy drinks.
But the doctors and other scientists are not so sure. They believe even the most gluttonous over-indulgence could not produce the kind of excess body weight Manuel has succumbed to. Instead, they think Manuel was super-sized by nature. A fault in his genes perhaps triggered the inflammation of his molecular structure.
Whatever the cause, the team of medics and nutritionists around him now have come up with a specialist diet that has produced remarkable results. Manuel tucks into a delicious looking bowl of fish soup, complete with large chunks of fish. That is followed by a grapefruit and half an apple, rounded off with 18 peanuts. Yes, 18 peanuts.
Everything Manuel eats is calculated down to the last detail. Literally down to the last peanut.
"I take one day at a time. The doctors told me I had a choice. To choose life or to choose death. I chose life," he said.
"It's all about blocks," Manuel says. " My food is broken down into blocks. Every thing I eat has a value. A grapefruit is two blocks. Six peanuts are one block." And so it goes on. By adding up the blocks he knows how much food he is allowed per meal. All his food intake has been scientifically calculated to make sure he gets exactly what his body needs.
"It's about controlling his hormones," says Alejandra Garcia, one of Manuel's nutritionists. "If he eats the right nutrients you control his hormones. If you control his hormones you determine his weight. It is not some outlandish fad diet. It is simple common sense refined by science." That means they have worked out his exact intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. And, they say, this can be done for anyone.
Sometime ago, Manuel tried to take his own life, so depressed was he by his size. But he is more confident now. His mother Otilia says, "I am so proud of him now," she says. "He is so much more at ease with life." His new food programme has re-energised his life - he now has a girlfriend and wants children.
He has bought a giant massage machine to maintain the circulation in the legs he can no longer close or move. He has his own website and has started the Manuel Uribe Foundation to spread the word that weight loss for obese people is possible - and permanent. Manuel says his aim to get down to 120kg.. It means losing a further 260kg.
That is like another three men climbing off his body.
He could soon undergo weight-loss surgery in Italy, it is reported. Italian surgeon Giancarlo DeBernardinis said, "We will hold a meeting in the coming days to work out the details of the hospitalization and to prepare the operating theater and the appropriate surgical tools." Manuel has not been able to leave his bed for the last five years. He desperately wants to.
"The sky is beautiful and blue and what I want is to enjoy the sun," he told reporters. "My goal is to leave the house on my own but I know that will be a long process." An admiring blogger wrote - You WILL do it, Manuel, because you've found a plan that is working for you and you are making it happen!!! CONGRATULATIONS and here's to another 400 pounds lost in the next year! Keep at it, buddy, and NEVER EVER GIVE UP!