WHEN two sons realised their dad might have to have his foot amputated, they took matters into their own hands.
Anthony and Ian Whitington were devastated when beloved father Geoff was told he might need his foot removed due to complications from diabetes.
Sufferers typically live just two years after such drastic surgery and they feared a poor diet and lack of exercise meant Geoff was heading for an early grave.
So together the brothers made him stick to a vigorous new diet and exercise regime after researching the condition and in doing so they ‘cured’ Geoff, who is now in remission from the disease.
Those battling type 2 diabetes are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Studies also show you’re at greater risk of life-threatening complications if you catch Covid.
But increasing evidence suggests if you are unwell with diabetes, there is something you can do about it.
Research has shown that around 46 per cent of those diagnosed with the illness – which can cause nerve damage, issues with eyesight and lead to heart attack and stroke – can reverse the condition.
And now, Ian and Anthony, who ‘fixed’ their dad after a decade-long battle with the disease, want to help people the world over rid themselves of this deadly illness.
Not only did he slim from 20-stone to 13, Geoff went from taking nine types of daily medication to just one and at the age of 62, he completed a 100-mile charity bike ride.
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Father-of-four Anthony and brother Ian made an inspirational film about Geoff’s journey – called Fixing Dad – and are keen to help the 3.5 million Brits who battle the illness, as well as other chronic conditions such as cancer and obesity.
“Dad is not a one-off,” explains Anthony, 45, from Beauly, Scotland.
“There are so many people like him who are unwell and getting sicker.
“When the documentary went out, we were contacted by thousands of people who wanted to do the same thing.
“They didn’t only have diabetes. They might have heart disease or cancer, but what they had in common was that they all wanted to improve their health.
“Since helping dad we have helped more and more people to overcome chronic illness. Sun readers can do the same.
“Don’t wait to take action – make change today.”
Geoff Whitington, now 70, a security guard, from Ashford, Kent, was a big drinker and loved takeaways before his dramatic weight loss, so much so that it had become part of his personality.
“Dad could drink and eat more than anyone else,” Anthony says.
“When we were young, we thought it was funny. He was 50 when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”
The disease can leave a person up to five times more prone to heart disease, strokes and foot problems due to nerve damage.
In November 2013, during a family day out at Chessington World of Adventures, Geoff’s right foot collapsed and he was taken to hospital.
Geoff had Charcot Foot, a serious condition which causes weakening of the bones due to nerve damage, often caused by diabetes.
It can lead to severe deformity, disability and amputation.
Needing crutches to walk, he became depressed and his sons intervened.
Anthony and Ian, 43, from Ashford, Kent, launched a crowdfunding scheme for their ‘fixing dad’ project and eventually found research by Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University suggesting you could reverse diabetes and immediately signed Geoff up.
For eight weeks, he stuck to 800 calories-a-day before following a low-carb diet.
“He was difficult,” Anthony recalls. “There were times when we had big arguments as a family.
“He threatened to pull out many times. We’d catch him out at work eating the wrong foods.
“But because we’d effectively given up our jobs and put a lot of time into it, he carried on.”
Six months later a new, slimmer Geoff completed the Prudential Ride London in July 2014, a 100-mile cycle from London to Surrey.
After the documentary about Geoff’s journey aired on the BBC, the family were inundated with people saying they too wanted to change their lifestyles.
“Lots of people wanted to do the same,” Anthony says. “It wasn’t just people with diabetes.
“They might have had cancer or a stroke. Dad’s story had inspired people.
“We wanted to help others so we advertised for people to take part in the Ride London the following year.”
Since saving their dad, the brothers have helped millions of people all over the world to overhaul their lifestyles and boost their health.
They even have their own TV show in America, where in each 30-minute episode, they help someone turn their life around.
“The family take control,” Anthony explains. “We put them in charge of overhauling a loved one’s health.
“Often, it’s a grown up child helping a parent but sometimes a spouse.
“It’s self-filmed so the family films their own journey like a video diary.
“We’ve helped people with all manner of conditions not just diabetes but asthma, eyesight conditions and thyroid issues.
“Often, these issues are caused by high blood sugar.
“We’ve seen an amazing turn around in so many people’s health.
Fixing Dad became Fixing Us – a global brand and the brothers help people the world over.
“Dad suffered a bit during the pandemic. Like a lot of others, he put on a bit of weight,” Anthony adds.
“But he is doing really well again now and he is still cycling.”
It’s thought that more than five million people will have diabetes by 2025 and it costs the NHS billions every year.
“It’s no longer just about ‘fixing dad’,” Anthony says.
“It’s about fixing us, all of us. Now, we encourage families to come together to try and improve their health and manage a number of chronic conditions including diabetes.
“We want to encourage others to try and save the life of someone you love.”
The brothers have set up forums for people going through the journey on their website at FixingUs.com.
“This kind of support is something that has been really missing in the NHS,” Anthony says.
“People are struggling to connect. They need to find others on the same journey.
“We see a lot of people comfort eating and struggling with social isolation and loneliness.
“These sorts of mental health issues will only add to physical health problems.
“We know that if you have diabetes, you are more likely to be depressed.
“It’s never been more crucial to bring people together.”