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14 March 2012, 15:55
A Braintree couple who lost more than 15 stone between them have won the title of Slimming World's Couple of the Year 2012.
Simon and Tracy Bartlett had struggled to lose weight since they were teenagers.
Their size crept up after Mrs Bartlett, 42, was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome, an auto-immune disease which badly affected her lungs.
Taking daily steroids to manage the condition increased her appetite, while Mr Bartlett, 33, turned to comfort eating.
At their heaviest, Mr Bartlett weighed 18 and a half stone and Mrs Bartlett weighed 18 stone. On top of Mrs Bartlett's illness, they both suffered high blood pressure and painful joints.
In January 2011 Mr and Mrs Bartlett joined their local Slimming World group in Braintree. By December 2011 Mrs Bartlett had lost 8st 8 1/2lb and Mr Bartlett was 6st 12 1/2lb lighter.
Speaking about their combined weight loss, Mrs Bartlett said: "We want to make up for lost time. We've booked camping trips for the summer and I'm dying to try weird and wacky things like zorbing and bungee jumping, things I'd never have dreamed of doing before.''