The Chawners were once dubbed the UK’s fattest and laziest family. Now the younger of the sisters, Emma, has transformed herself and is hoping she can get her sibling to follow in her footsteps
When Emma Chawner appeared on The X Factor in 2007, she was called a “flump“ by Simon Cowell.
She and her family – sister, Sam, 31, father Phil, 64, and mum Audrey, 67 – were labelled Britain’s “fattest and laziest” family and were even nicknamed the “Teletubbies”. At their heaviest, their combined weight was a staggering 91st. It also emerged that none of them worked due to their weight and they’d claimed over £300,000 in benefits in 18 years.
But in the last two years, Emma, who’s 5ft 3in, has undergone an astonishing transformation – going from 28st and a size 28 to 15st 3lbs and a size 18.
She explains, “Two years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. It was the trigger I needed to lose weight, and I know that I’ll keep it off this time because I have to for my health. I’ve done it slowly and in a way that I know I can stick to.”
Check out X Factor: The most shocking contestant transformations
X Factor: The most shocking contestant transformations - STACKED
This spiky-haired teen won X Factor waaaaay back in 2007, scoring a Christmas number one with a cover of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey's When You Believe. And, while there's no denying that he was cute, the X Factor champion was definitely a bit too baby-faced for us to lust over properly. But, nowadays, he's looking VERY sexy indeed, after switching up everything from his hairstyle to his workout regime at the gym. He definitely looks good on it, doesn't he? Read more about Leon jackson's comeback career here.
When Frankie Cocozza joined The X Factor back in 2011, he was a scruffy 18-year-old with birds nest hair and a LOT of eye makeup. Nowadays he looks far more mature and (dare we say it?) mega hot, sporting a wee bit of stubble and curl mousse in favour of his velvet jackets of old. We love his new look - how about you? Read more about his transformation here.
The X Factor star first burst into our lives as a sweet and fresh-faced teenager from Liverpool, starring as tormented child Anthony Murray in the Channel 4 soap opera, Brookside. When he was 18-years-old, he auditioned for The X Factor and survived right up until the show's final, where he lost out to Leona Lewis. Since then, we've seen him appear in Dancing On Ice and in several West End musicals - but, when he was dismissed from his record label in November 2007, he fell off the radar a little bit. Now he's back - and he's DEFINITELY become a fan of lifting weights, hasn't he? Read more about his transformation here.
Eoghan was just 16-year-old when he shot to fame in the ITV competition in 2008, and made it all the way to the final where he finished in third place. He landed a record deal after the show, but was sadly dropped when his debut single limped in at number 96 on the Official UK Singles Chart. Since then, Eoghan has turned his back on music – and instead has made a bit of a name for himself in Irish football. And he looks completely different, doesn't he? Read more about his transformation here.
X Factor's Christopher Maloney has shocked fans after revealing he spent £60,000 on cosmetic surgery following a nervous breakdown. After coming third in the talent show back in 2012, the 37-year-old fell into a deep depression which made even getting out of bed a struggle. Since leaving the show, Christopher has undergone three hair transplants, an eye lift and two nose jobs. He has also had teeth veneers. He told The Mirror: "I feel so much happier for it." Read more about his transformation here.
Remember when Chloe Mafia auditioned for The X Factor in 2010? Well, it seems like rejection from the show has done her no harm, as the Wakefield lass looks unrecognisable these days. In fact, Chloe - now known as Chloe Khan - is now a MILLIONAIRE and living a life of luxury overseas. She said: "My lifestyle is pretty incredible now – it's mansions and private jets and everything else that I could only imagine when I was younger." The money allowed her to completely reinvent herself with cosmetic surgery and designer clothes - and she's confessed to a boob job or two, as well as rhinoplasty. Read more about her transformation here.
The shy and retiring singer shot to fame, thanks to his modest nature and sweet-as-an-angel voice, back on The X Factor in 2012. He finished in second place, and has since gone on to find success as a singer; in fact, his second album (which features collaborations with the likes of Diane Warren) is currently in the works. But Nicole Scherzinger's protégé hasn't just been working on his music; he's also been working on his look, too. Think makeup and VERY well manicured eyebrows - we're jealous. To critics of his new look, he said simply: "Any judgement of beauty will always be an opinion." Read more about his transformation here.
One of the biggest X Factor success stories, Leigh-Anne Pinnock is now 1/4 of Little Mix - but she's just as prone to a makeover as her fellow former X Factor contestants. The songstress recently went and dyed her dark locks a bright shade of blonde - and she looked incredible! Read more about her transformation here.
The mum-of-three burst into our lives as the prison guard with a very powerful voice - and we thought she looked beautiful. But there's no denying that the X Factor winner looks absolutely phenomenal nowadays, sporting a much more polished look.
Cher surprised us all when she burst out into R'n'B song Turn My Swag On back in 2010 - but she's ditched her rapper style for a far more polished look nowadays. In fact, Cher looks a LOT like her X Factor mentor, Cheryl Cole, nowadays, doesn't she?
George first appeared as a baby-face solo artist when he auditioned with Britney Spears's Toxic back in 2012. Now in his 20s, he looks VERY different - with many labelling the Union J as the ULTIMATE man candy. Thoughts?
John and Edward Grimes were the X Factor twins with BOUNDS of energy and gravity defying uairsylts. Nowadays, however, they are all grown up now and they look pretty different from their days on the hit ITV talent show. They're still making music, sure, but they're sporting a much more grown up 'do - and we kinda love it. Way to go, Jedward!
Not only has she ditched her tired looking bleach blonde looks, Katie Waissel has gone full on mummy mode, toning down her trademark indie rocker look in favour of relaxed leisurewear and a make-up free face.
Emma first auditioned for X Factor in 2007 to scathing responses from Simon, before getting back up on the X Factor stage with her sister, Sam, a few years later. Now she's dropped an incredible 12 stone and exclusively told Closer magazine, "I'd love Simon to see me now – he wouldn't recognize me!"
Emma, 29, who works as a childminder, says, “Sam and I were always big, but started really putting on weight at secondary school. We were both bullied and would eat to cheer ourselves up. As we put on weight, we’d get bullied more – people would shout ‘fattie’ at us in the street. It was horrible.
“Being on The X Factor made the abuse worse, as we were so high profile. People told us to go kill ourselves, that we were ugly and fat, and they shouted ‘Teletubbies’ at us.”
Then in 2010, both girls lost weight for TV documentary, Lorraine Kelly’s Big Fat Challenge. Sam went to a boot camp in America for six months and slimmed down to 19st; Emma had a personal trainer and nutritionist and went down to 16st 9lbs.
But over the following years, their weight crept back up as they relapsed into their old bad habits of living on takeaways, microwave meals and scoffing crisps and chocolate while watching TV.
And when their mother, Audrey, left the family home one day without any explanation as to why, the girls both turned to food for comfort.
But now Emma is convinced she’s changed her ways for good. She explains, “It was a huge shock to hear that I was making myself ill.”
In a bid to lose weight, Emma stopped snacking on cakes, crisps and biscuits. She also gave up bread, pasta and potatoes. Instead, she ate a plate of scrambled egg or Weetabix for breakfast, then a plain salad or sushi for lunch. Dinner would typically be salmon or chicken with vegetables, and she drank a bottle of water before every meal to fill herself up.
The weight fell off her, and in just 30 months, she has lost an incredible 12st 5lbs – now she’s aiming to lose a further 3st and become a size 12. And in addition to overhauling her diet, she’s started exercising, too.
She says, “I’m going to the gym now, but I hated it at first. People stared and pointed at me and it made me feel self-conscious. Normally, that would have halted everything; I would have stopped exercising and started eating again.
"But this time around, I was determined. So I saved up and made myself a home gym. I’ve got a treadmill, a cross-trainer and a power plate. And I exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week.
“When I started on the treadmill, I could only walk for a few minutes, but now I run uphill.”
And Emma is already reaping the health benefits of her new fitness regime.
She says, “I don’t get breathless when I walk any more. I haven’t reversed the diabetes yet, but I’m hoping I will be able to.”
Emma is single at the moment, but will start looking for love once she’s at her target weight.
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She says, “I’d love Simon Cowell to see me now – he wouldn’t recognise me! I wouldn’t sing for him again, though – that’s now reserved for the shower!”
And once Emma is down to a size 12, she has plans to try her hand as a plus-size model. She says, “I would love to start modelling once I’m at my target weight, and I know I’ll get there. I love my new lifestyle. I feel that I can do anything now and I’m so proud of myself.
“My friends have all been so supportive and can’t believe how well I’ve done. Now I just have to get my family to follow my lead – especially my sister Sam.
“I don’t understand how she hasn’t got diabetes already; she gets really breathless when she walks. I’m desperate for her to do as well as I have. If I can do it, anyone can.”
Waitress and nail technician Sam, who’s 5ft 9in, is now at her heaviest, weighing 30st and wearing a size 32.
Sam says, “I can’t believe how well Emma has done and she is now giving me diet tips, too. I’m really pleased for her and she’s inspired me. For the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to do the same as her, but I haven’t noticed any changes yet.”
Read even more inspiring stories in this week's Closer magazine - out now.