Age at interview: 77
Brief Outline: Tref has lost and gained weight over the years, but has found it hard to maintain a diet over time. Tref started taking his weight loss more seriously since being diagnosed with bowel cancer. He is finding making changes to his diet easier now he has a motivation for dieting and something to aim for.
Background: Tref is 77, and is married with 2 adult children. He is retired, but previously worked as an electrical/ signaling engineer. He is white British.

More about me...

When Tref was young, he worked abroad in physical jobs, which kept him fit. Since returning to the UK and taking a more sedentary position, Tref gained weight. Prompted by his doctor, he has tried dieting over the years. There have been times when Tref has lost some weight, including before having a heart bypass around 15 years ago, and in recent years when his wife was admitted to a care home with Alzheimer’s disease. However, Tref finds dieting difficult to maintain, as he likes good food and drink, “I’ve always been conscious that I’m overweight but, as I’ve got older, it has been more difficult to lose weight”.

Tref was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around 20 years ago. However, he has struggled to manage his diabetes in recent years, which he feels is due to both age and his diet. Tref calls himself a “chocoholic”, and has found that, living alone, he has started buying ready meals. Tref also finds it harder to stay motivated to lose weight without having his wife to prompt him. He feels that since her illness has progressed, his weight gain may also be in part due to “comfort eating”.

Tref has found it harder to exercise in recent years. After breaking his ankle, he was unable to go to the gym. He also had knee replacement surgery which wasn’t fully successful. Because of this, Tref started using a stick to walk. However, after trying a mobility scooter whilst on holiday, he decided to buy one. Although Tref tries not to use this all the time, he feels it has contributed to his weight gain, “it made me lazy”.

Tref’s diabetic nurse and his doctor have recommended that he lose weight in the past. He questioned how important this was at the time, but has started taking his weight loss more seriously since being diagnosed with bowel cancer; he has been told that unless he loses weight, surgery could be “too big a risk”. Tref’s diabetic nurse has helped him understand why certain foods are bad for him, and has encouraged him to keep a food diary, which has been “helpful”. Tref is now trying to prepare more food from scratch and reduce his carbohydrate and sugar intake. He has stopped eating red meat, and cut his portion sizes. Tref also tries to make healthy choices, such as changing his cappuccino to a black coffee, and reducing his alcohol intake. Since his cancer diagnosis, Tref is finding making these changes “easy”, “because I’ve got something to aim at”. He feels that he will maintain this diet in the long term, “I think it’ll be long term now provided I recover from the operation. I will now, I’ve got to”.

Tref sees weight management as a question of “will power”. He feels people have a responsibility to manage their weight, “it’s up to the individual. The information is out there… You can’t force them, anybody to do it…”. However, Tref feels that healthcare professionals are doing a “wonderful job” around weight management, and encourages them to continue to continue their work in this area. Tref recommends others to seek support in losing weight, “get motivated. You need to talk to somebody or get a family member to motivate you. You need, you need a plan. You need a goal and it’s easier if there’s somebody helping you”.

Tref has gained weight since his wife moved into a care home.

Tref has gained weight since his wife moved into a care home.


If I can but I, you know, as you get older, it gets more difficult and living alone doesn’t help because what you do, you tend to do, is buy these ready-made meals because it’s not, you don’t, you think, well, it’s not worth preparing anything. I can go into Waitrose, I can go into any of the supermarkets and I can buy a reasonable ready-made meal that tastes reasonable, which I’ve tried to stop doing because.


Yeah, when my, I mean I, my wife doesn’t live with me.

She’s had Alzheimer’s for two years now, two and a half, well, she’s been in a care home for two and a half years. She had Alzheimer’s I suppose couple of years before that but I’ve always been quite a keen cook. I’ve always enjoyed food. I’ve, I’ve always enjoyed preparing food. I used to always cook at the weekends and probably two or three times in the week. Rather generous portions, I may say. I must have done but my wife was a bit stronger than me. She used to go the gym and do yoga and all sorts and she was very, she was trim.


Before she got Alzheimer’s because she used to, but no I got a bit big. It’s all my own fault I mean it’s will power.

Maybe not having my wife, I mean that could be a factor, not having my wife here saying, “Hey, you’re putting on too much weight.”

That’s what happened before. She was.

Well, yeah, she did. She’d remind me. “Hey, you’re getting a bit big.” So then I’d lose some weight, keep it off for a bit and then bang, put it back on again.

[mm] Okay.

But she, my wife, yeah, would say, “Hey, you’re getting a bit big.”


Trying new recipes may help Tref to beat boredom and stick to an eating plan but having friends to dinner does not help because they eat (and drink) more when being sociable.

Trying new recipes may help Tref to beat boredom and stick to an eating plan but having friends to dinner does not help because they eat (and drink) more when being sociable.


Tell me about those times that you have been trying to lose weight, other times that you have tried.

Well, I find that I go like, I find that the other times I’ve lost some weight a little bit and thinking, oh that’s good and then thought, oh why bother? [Laughs].


You know, I’m not I’m not enjoying this, you know. Because I’ve always been a big lover of food.


Going to the gym, yeah. I used to enjoy going to the gym, I really did but then, unfortunately, I fell over and broke my ankle and it’s, I’ve had trouble. Still with me left foot ever since. Probably arthritis set in. And then my knee, I had a new knee, which wasn’t entirely successful. And it, I just stopped going to the gym.

Okay and the main problem to stick to a diet is because you become bored.



That’s what I would say.

And what do you think it will help?

I don’t think anything would help really.

I don’t know, trying new recipes or.

Maybe try new recipes, I don’t know.

Or inviting friends to eat with you, I.

Maybe, yeah.

Okay. Yeah.

But again, it’s difficult when you’re seventy seven years old because I haven’t got too many friends of your, of the same age range, you know, would you.

Occasionally, the friends down the road will eat with me. We’ll have a meal up here together or I’ll go down there but I, when you sort of have a bit of a party, if you like, you tend to go a bit mad.

Okay, so.

You know, I’ve, if they come up here, I’ll cook a Chinese curry or roast lamb or lamb shank or.


And we’ll drink a couple of bottles of wine.


So that’s not really, that doesn’t really help or.

Previous Page
Next Page