Bozena Bajer

Bozena Bajer

The BIG Challenge

A spotlight campaign exploring clinical research into obesity supported by the NIHR

Bozena Bajer feels that taking part in a clinical research study has given her a much better understanding of her operation and her condition…

I’d been struggling with obesity for 15 years. It began when I stopped smoking.

I just couldn’t stop eating. I felt helpless. I couldn’t believe that after the operation I could control my appetite. I couldn’t let myself believe it.

Now I can control my thoughts and actions, it’s amazing! I’d have no hesitation in recommending a gastric bypass to other people in my position.

I was first introduced to the obesity study at the pre-surgical assessment for my surgery. That’s when I met Navpreet and he asked me if I’d like to take part and help people who suffer from obesity and diabetes in the future. He explained the objectives of the study and really motivated me to take part.

My mother and father had type 2 diabetes, so I thought I would be at risk of that too. Because of that and my experiences with my weight, I decided to get involved.

I’m half way through the study now. I agreed to do two days testing before my surgery and two more days afterwards. They’re going to compare my responses and I’m curious to do the tests again to see how my tastes and reactions might have changed.

The study involves lots of different tasks. Part of it involved lying in a scanner and responding to different types of images. I had to lie still for 1.5 hours, which was difficult! Nav said I could take a break whenever I wanted, but I did my best to be as still as possible.

I had to give instinctive responses to the images I saw. There were normally four different responses and I had to quickly make my choice. For example, it might have been an image of a particular type of food. 

There were also sets of questions that I had to think about a bit more. I had to say how much of a particular food I wanted, and say how long I would wait before eating it. And I had to state how much things were worth. You got scores for some sections too which was motivational.

It was an eight hour day and the only break from the study was a food break, but that was part of the study too! I got given a big bowl of soup and told to eat as much as I wanted, but to take my time. I ate it all in 8 minutes! I was so hungry! I felt a bit guilty about that because they gave me 15 minutes to finish it.

I did the study because I wanted to give something back, but I think I’ve benefitted a lot too. It gave me a much better understanding of my surgery and of the causes of obesity too. All I can remember from my GP appointment is that he said the gastric band does not work for everyone.

The pre-assessment briefing for the operation gave more information, but being in the study gave me more one-to-one time with Nav, which meant I could think about the operation more and discuss it in detail. He dedicated time to me that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. We’ve also called and emailed each other if I’ve had any issues, both before and after the surgery.

It’s also given me a better understanding of research. I can see where the time and effort goes. It’s made me value my operation more and understand the value of what is being done for me. I don’t want to let myself down, and I don’t want to let down the people that have worked on the study either.

For information about brain scanning studies currently looking for volunteers visit these websites: