A 22-stone woman who has lost a staggering 16-stone says a decision to stop her £340 disability allowance could see her pile the pounds back on.

Laura Ripley had more reasons than most to celebrate her 25th birthday this year as it was a milestone doctors told her she would never see.

The Take That fan had spent the whole of her life "eating herself to death" until four years ago her 30-stone mum died and she decided to diet.

And after dropping from 38-stone to 22-stone with the help of an NHS-funded gastric bypass she was well on her way to achieving her goal of slimming into a pair of size 12 jeans.

Until this month when benefit bosses decided to scrap her £340 disability allowance on the grounds she is no longer fat enough to claim.

Laura, 25, claims it is a decision that could see her pile weight back on because with hand-outs of £600 a month left, she says she can't afford to eat healthily.

Speaking from the two-bed flat she shares with her new boyfriend, unemployed chef Simon Hawkins, 28, Laura admits she has already gained a stone in weight since she lost the right to the extra money.

She said: "It's been a matter of weeks and I'm already nearly a stone heavier from all the junk I've had to eat.

"I can't afford WeightWatchers crisps and healthy cereal bars anymore so instead I have to go for cheap chocolate and packets of fatty Space Invaders.

"I've also had to cancel my gym membership and instead of healthy salads for my evening meal, we have cheaper dinners like toad in the hole.

"My daily calorie count has gone from 1,200 a day to 2,500. It's just not fair."

Laura, of St Leonards, is no stranger to junk food.

At 12 years old Laura was already weighing in at 15 stone after a childhood spent splashing out on cakes and sweets.

By the age of 20 she was morbidly obese at 38-stone.

Too heavy to ever have worked after leaving school, she became a recluse until her mum died suddenly on Christmas Eve 2005.

It was the kick start she was in desperate need of, and two days later made the call to her GP that changed her life.

Forced to lose weight in the lead up to the gastric bypass op, Laura managed to shed eight-and-a-half-stone in 18 months before going under the knife in June 2007.

She said: “I was almost sick when the letter arrived one morning telling me the Disability Living Allowance had been cut completely.

"That was the money I used to pay for the gym, pay for healthy food and have my hair highlighted.

"Without it I'm left with the £200 incapacity benefit and the £100 income support I receive every two weeks and out of that I have to give them back about £70 towards the cost of the £500-a-month flat I'm living in. It's ridiculous."

As well as Laura's handouts, her boyfriend Simon, an unemployed pub chef who moved in to her flat from his home in Manchester after meeting her online a year ago, also survives solely on government hand outs.

In fact it is their coupling that Laura claims is behind the decision to cut off the £4,080-a-year payments - a move she is about to launch her second appeal against.