UK’s first MP of Palestinian descent describes struggles with obesity and depression

Layla Moran has described in detail her struggle with obesity and depression. (Layla Moran's Facebook page)
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Updated 28 June 2020

UK’s first MP of Palestinian descent describes struggles with obesity and depression

  • Layla Moran, 37, the child of a Palestinian mother and English father, was put on a diet at the age of one
  • The first female Liberal Democrat MP from an ethnic minority background has also battled with depression

LONDON: The UK’s first MP of Palestinian descent has described in detail her struggle with obesity and depression.
Layla Moran, 37, the child of a Palestinian mother and English father, told The Sunday Times that she was put on a diet at the age of one after a doctor told her mother that she was “on the chubbier side.”
The former maths teacher, who is in a race to lead the Liberal Democrats, said the doctor advised her mother to monitor what she ate to ensure she did not become overweight.
“And all the way through, I don’t think there was ever a year where I wasn’t on a diet,” Moran told the British newspaper.
“I was going to sports clubs, I was encouraged to go cycling . . . it wasn’t that there wasn’t the opportunity; it was just really hard for me to lose weight.”
Moran was banned from desserts but still failed to control her weight, she added.
It was only after she broke her leg aged 23 working as a semi-professional cellist in an orchestra that she had surgery.
She jumped off a stage during rehearsals, broke her leg and became wheelchair bound for three months.
During this time, her weight ballooned and her doctor told her that the break would not have been so bad if she had been lighter.
“Because my body mass index [BMI] was above 40 at that point, the doctor asked if I had ever considered bariatric surgery,” Moran continued.
She decided to go ahead with the surgery and had a sleeve gastrectomy.
“Basically, my stomach was made smaller. And it worked. That first year I lost about half my body weight,” Moran said.
The first female Liberal Democrat MP from an ethnic minority background has also battled with depression and said she was diagnosed during her second year of university at Imperial College London where she studied physics.
Moran said she received help and took antidepressants but ended up getting a third-class degree.
The MP for Oxford West and Abingdon is now a “happy size 12.”
She hopes to become the next leader of the Liberal Democrats in a contest expected to finish at the end of August.
While she has spoken previously about her Arab roots and the current Palestinian situation, her interview did not mention Israeli’s threat to annex parts of the occupied West Bank this week.
In an interview with Arab News in 2018, she said the international community must be involved in the Palestinian-Israel peace process.
“As long as Palestinians are not equals in that partnership, it is not fair to put the onus of negotiation just on those two countries. The international community has to be involved,” she said.


NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

Updated 23 October 2020

NATO says Greece and Turkey cancel military exercises

  • “This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers
  • Turkey has deployed a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters

BRUSSELS: Turkey and Greece have agreed to cancel rival military exercises that were to have been held next week on their respective national days, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.
The neighbors, while NATO members, are at loggerheads over energy drilling and maritime rights in the eastern Mediterranean and the alliance has set up a hotline to head off accidental clashes.
“This is a very welcome step,” Stoltenberg said after a videoconference of NATO defense ministers, including Greece’s Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Turkey’s Hulusi Akar.
“These are steps in the right direction, and it helps to reduce the risks for instance and accidents.”
Greece had been expected to conduct exercises on Wednesday October 28, its Oxi Day holiday, and Turkey on Thursday, celebrated there as Republic Day.
Turkey has deployed the Oruc Reis, a gas exploration vessel under military escort into Greek waters off the island of Kastellorizo, and Greek vessels are nearby.
Addressing a news conference after two days of talks on a variety of topics, Stoltenberg confirmed he had raised the situation with the Greek and Turkish ministers.
“I will say that we had a good and constructive talks and allies expressed a strong support for the NATO de-confliction mechanism,” Stoltenberg said.
“I welcome now the fact that we have been able to see some concrete steps in that direction with the cancelation of the two exercises.”
French Defense Minister Florence Parly also hailed the decisions to cancel the military exercises, stressing the need to “respect international law and restore stability in the region.”
Stoltenberg also welcomed Germany’s diplomatic mediation in the underlying dispute.
On Thursday, he had warned that — while NATO could help keep the rival militaries apart — it would be down to Ankara and Athens to open a dialogue to resolve their long-standing differences.