A HAMPSHIRE man who would eat a "spoonful of brown sugar" to comfort himself is searching for love after losing 20st.

At his heaviest of 33st 12lbs, Jon Vidler from Chandler's Ford couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes without suffering from severe back pain, which affected his work as a senior quality officer at a pharmaceutical company.

The 42-year-old used to experience severe panic attacks because of his weight and after becoming increasingly concerned about his health, Jon decided to join Slimming World.

Jon has now dropped to 13st 5lbs and has been named Slimming World’s Greatest Loser 2019.

He said: "To be honest I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t overweight.

Daily Echo:

"At secondary school I was bullied very badly, so much so that to comfort myself I would come home and eat spoonful after spoonful of brown sugar – just because for a few moments that would make me feel better.

"As I grew older and earned my own money I just ate whatever and whenever I wanted.

"This was mostly in secret, but it must have been obvious because my size was increasing quite dramatically by that point.

"When I was at my biggest I struggled with severe anxiety – to the point where I was once rushed to hospital in an ambulance because both I and the paramedics thought I was having a heart attack.

"I was at a very low point in my life and started to hide myself away. My only comfort was eating."

Daily Echo:

“I previously had to have a cancerous lump removed and following the operation I had to have a CT scan to determine the next course of action.

"The only problem was the upper weight limit for the scanner was 32 stone.

"They went ahead with the scan even though I was over the threshold and thankfully got the information they needed – but I had to be pulled free from the machine because it was such a tight fit.

"It was moments like that which really struck me – I wasn’t just putting my life on hold because of my weight, I was putting it in danger too.”

Jon joined Slimming World after realising his health was in danger and at first lost 9st 7lbs.

However, Jon's mum became ill and passed away seven weeks after her diagnosis.

Jon explained that his world "fell apart" and he turned to food again for comfort.

He added: "I was welcomed back without any question and this time something just clicked.

"I fell in love with Food Optimising – so I still enjoyed delicious meals like curries, chillis, burgers and chips – I just prepared them in a different way and cooked most of my food from scratch.

“In time my dad joined with me too and he’s been a great support and my biggest cheerleader.

"It really does make a difference when the people around you understand and support what you are trying to achieve."

Daily Echo:

At Slimming World Jon was taught how to cook home-made healthy meals from scratch and was encouraged to start doing exercise.

Jon was soon walking 5km a day and eventually took part in a 10km race.

In June, he is planning on tackling Mount Snowdon.

He added: “It might sound corny, but my biggest dream is to find someone to share my life with.

"I feel like I’ve got a second chance and I want to fill it with things that I used to miss out on because of my weight, so meeting that special someone to share those memories with me would be amazing.”