Tragic death of diet mum

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A MUM died two weeks after starting a radical weight loss plan in the hope of having another baby, an inquest was told.

Joanne Shelbourne, 32, was found dead by her distraught husband, Kevin, at their family home.

A mum to three-year-old Adam, Joanne, who worked for Northern Rock at Doxford International, had been happily married for nearly six years.

An inquest yesterday was unable to determine what caused the unexpected death.

The hearing was told in the weeks leading up to her sudden death, Joanne, a size 18, had taken up a low-calorie diet for a second time, with the aim of losing weight in the hope of having another child.

Pathologist Dr Sidiq Tijani said that despite a post-mortem examination and numerous tests, he had been unable to confirm how Joanne had died.

Although the mum, who suffered from high blood pressure, was prescribed two different drugs, neither of them was found in her system.

There was also no evidence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

However, the hearing, at Doxford Park, was told there were traces of a chemical that the body often produces when it is starving.

Dr Tijani added there was a family history of sleep apnoea, a condition where sufferers have pauses in breathing while they sleep.

But Joanne’s family said she had not been diagnosed with the condition.

Dr Tijani added: “There is literature that states some individuals with pre-disposing conditions, as obesity and cigarette smoking and with a history of sleep apnoea, could die suddenly and no cause of death could be found.”

Coroner Derek Winter recorded a verdict of death by natural causes on the Washington mum, who died in February. The coroner found no link between Joanne’s diet and her sudden death.

Speaking after the inquest, Joanne’s grieving father, Michael Garrett, said: “We just can’t believe someone can die of natural causes aged 32.”

Joanne’s mum, Glenda Garrett, said she had been concerned that Joanne had adopted the low calorie Cambridge diet in the weeks prior to her death.

Eileen Skinner, managing director of the Cambridge Weight Plan, said: “We are saddened by the tragic death of Joanne and our sympathy goes out to her family.

“Each day many thousands of people safely use our programmes to lose weight. The coroner made no links whatsoever with any of the weight loss programmes available from Cambridge Weight Plan and the company was not invited to attend or even supply any information. It is important to note that the coroner’s verdict was ‘natural causes’.

“Obesity is a growing health problem. Medical opinion is clear that obesity can pose a significant risk to health, particularly for those with a higher BMI and we would urge anyone who is overweight to take action.”

Husband Kevin described his wife as a “beautiful person” and “brilliant mam”.

Verdict: natural causes.