Man eating pizza
our growing waistlines, our 'food toxic' environment...can one be fat and fit?


I enjoyed your show the other night. But one thing I find disturbing is the lack of taking parents and educators to task for children's health (or lack thereof).

The school principal from CA interviewed put it in perspective. Children are now 'customers' whose wishes, and not neccessarily their well being are considered first and foremost. Of course kids are going to want taco bell and mcdonalds for lunch vs more traditional school fare. To make choices in a child's best interest is the reason why adults are supposed to be in charge, not the other way around.

matt gildea
belchertown, ma


Shame on you for not mentioning the real reason we have fat people. We have two things wrong with our diet, that should be remedied.

First It contains hydrogenated fat, This was mentioned on the program. The body uses this fat to make cholesterol, which inturn is used for body building and repair.These are man-made fats and do not function properly, This is an accumulative process. The real reason for breast and colon cancer and many other malfunctions.

It also degrades the omega 3 processes. Every-one knows its bad for the human body, so why is it still in our food supply? Money?

Second, It contains Too little omega 3 oil, food processing has omitted omega 3 from our diet, because of its short shelf life.Omega 3 assists in our METABOLISM and contains the fatty acids EPA and DHA. DHA comprises 2/3 of the brain. The absent is the reason for many mental problems. Its not how much fat you eat, Its what KIND of fat you eat. Its Metabolism, not calories.

Our trouble started back in the mid 80's when vegetable oil was pushed for cooking and saturated fat was made a dirty word. Vegetable oils used in cooking oxidize causing free-radicals, saturated fats should be used for cooking, coconut oil being the best.

So if you want to lose weight: 1 Have your thyroid checked, this controls body metabolism.

2 Do not eat Hydrogenrated fats, read the ingredients section on the product lable.

3 Do not eat foods deep fryed in vegetable oil (its oxidized)

4 do not eat commercial salad dressing(you do not know where the oil came from)

5 make sure you get your omega 3, to bring your system back in balance (omega 3 to omega 6 ratio), you may have to take 6-1000mg Fish oil a day for 3 months, then back off to 3 a day

6 Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts meats and fish.

7 As an extra boost try (Budwig Mix) 1 Tablespoon of flax seed oil mixed with 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt or cottage cheese(10 to 1 ratio)This will give you additional omega 3 protection. So the reason for our fat people is the deficiency of omega 3 in our diet.This was not mentioned in your program--shame on you. But, thank You, You do a great job.

Jud Morgan
grants pass, oregon


I thought the Frontline show on FAT was right on target. I wrote down a quote that has meaning to me because I have been there:

"One of the reasons why weight gets out of control is despair."

Also, there is such dichotomy between the super thin models, the Standard American Diet (SAD - and it is sad), the fast food restaurants, what we are supposed to look like, etc.

I thought that the fatter models on the runway look much happier and prettier than their thin counterparts on the runway.

greenbelt, maryland


I'd like to comment on one thing you forgot to mention in your broadcast that tends to be overlooked: incidence of endocrine & thyroid diseases.

I'm a 23 year old female who has struggled with her weight since she was 12 years old.It wasn't until after I had my daughter and a birth control shot (Depo Provera) that I found out I had PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a Pre-Diabetic condition that can cause tremendous weight gain and can lead to Type 2 Diabetes. The incidence of Type 2 Diabetes runs rampant in my family and I'm currently trying to fit that at the moment.

However, I was discouraged that you failed to mention PCOS, thyroid, Cushing's Syndrome or any "Syndrome X" diseases that can cause weight gain.

I'm currently at my heaviest and I'm just trying to live healthy and be here longer for my daughter. I am clinically "Morbidly obese" and I have faced a LOT of discrimination.

Now I live to fight for fat acceptance. It has become my mission.

Jennifer Craig
monterey, ca


The problem of obesity is best resolved by putting less attention on the body and more onto our spiritual essence.

Become more active in pursuing your goals, developing your potential, being more creative, setting goals, and interacting with people who are alive !!

For God's sake (and yours!!) stop this cult of the body.

Charles Benedetti
mt prospect, il


I am writing this from the most obese state of this Nation (West Virginia)and it is also one of the poorest. Any corollary there?

I watched the PBS presentation tonight and I agree that there is also a genetic reason for the variations of weight across the world's population. For a very long time in my life I was a fairly fit fat man. Then I was a very fit fat man. I finally became a less fat and even more fit fat man (when I was at 20% fat.) That means that 39 pounds of my 195 pounds was fat. Did I look fat at that point? No. That is ancient history now (1991)

What do the words fat and obese mean to me today? Because of programs like the one PBS aired this evening, my definition is changing. It is also changing because of my experiences with becoming so obese that I was hadicapped.

Perhaps that is where we need to draw the line. To change our concern from people becoming thin and fit, to one of ensuring that they are fit no matter what their weight so long as the weight is not physically handicapping them. People should not have to learn to cope with obesity if there is something that can be done to help them not be OBESE.

It might be helpful if the healthy foods and their prices weren't produced and controled by the same people that make the unhealthy stuff, that is, if they are. Are they?

Signed, just another old and fat lazy hillbilly.

Richard Thompson
milton, west virginia


I am a high school student. I for one am overweight. Not obese, I don't look it, i don't feel it. I look great and I am very healthy.

Not all big people are pigs, slobs or lazy people. We are just like you we just have more fat and skin then you do. People are always saying don't be predijuces, but you are. They say be nice to prople of a different race, be nice to the person who looks different then you. We look differeent then you, why can't you understand that we look different then most, why can't you be nice to us? That is my question or can I say my opinion.

Brande Goodale
bradford, new hampshire


Most of the articles I have read blamed fat/obesty on the fact that by the time we reach our 30's and older that the reason we have an overweight problem is because our metabolism has slowed down and we need to eat less and exercise more. Also another excuse is the fact that we eat too much.

I have yet to read or hear an expert refer to getting fat/obesty, because of certain Perscriptions and Medicines that they have to take in order to control several Health Problems. For example:I had petit mal epilepsy ... Before this happened I weighed about 112 lbs. It is now October 27th 2001, and I now weigh 170 lbs.

So please do me and your readers a favor; the next time you want to blame overweight on eating, metabolism, or not enough exercise you should give people like us a little more support than just telling us to stop eating so much or start exercising.

Sue Pridgen
wilson, n.c.


They key to living a healthy lifestyle for your physical body is balance and discipline.Too much of this and too much of that is not good. If you closely follow the food-guide pyramid, you are on your way to having a balanced diet. Also, love yourself enough to have discipline in choosing healthier foods to nourish your body.

Remember: the "boring" food is usually the better choice.

Anjulyn Ballard, Nutritionist
stone mountain, georgia


I saw your "Frontline" on Fat and I feel it was both even-handed and enlightened. After reading letters of response to this show on the web it is brought home to me how incredibly deep prejudice and ignorance exist regarding fat people.

As a 350 pound, 50 year old woman, I sometimes despair of such prejudice ever being eradicated, or even reduced! I am amazed that so many just don't "get it." It is easy to despair sometimes, for such prejudice does affect lives in very real and potentially tragic ways. I fight such despair remembering that our lives are finite, and that we have a real reponsibility to make our lives as meaningful, as full and authentic as we possibly can.

After 40 years of fighting to lose weight, of diet after diet, of ending up bigger and bigger after each diet ends, my efforts are now going to be directed at creating that authentic, rich life I only dreamed of for far too many years.

And no one can tell me that that isn't a positive goal. I only hope other fat people will be doing the same-hopefully not waiting until they are 50 to do so.

Carol Walter
buskirk, ny 12028


Dear Frontline, As I watched your broadcast about being overweight,it brought back some painful memories for me,as a child growing up. I was heavy. I was overweight,and I had come down with the dreaded respitory disease entitled "Asthma. "

Being heavy is not funny,nor,is it a joke.Many people find it to be funny,or,the kids make fun of you in school,because you are wearing a woman's size,when you should still be in the Junior section of the department store.Being heavy is humiliating to say the least. The teasing is only one example of this. The second thing is,not being able to make lasting relationships.

ivy medina
brooklyn,new york, new york


struggled with compulsive overeating prettly much my entire life. I finally sought treatment for it last year and I learned the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. I really ate like alcoholics drink. I finally had to admit that I can succumb to the body image falacy. I didn't not have the ideal body, therefore my body was not worth taking care of.

I also had no positive role model for self-care. My family's diet was high in fats and sugars, and some of my childhood's happiest moments were of eating pizza or donuts. Turning this around is quiet a challenge. I am venturing into an unknown world.

Your program illuminated a lot of the issues surround our society's relationship with the body. Hopefully, we can see this issue as complex and difficult and we are just beginning to understand it.

William Beaufort
new york, new york


I caught the show "Fat" last night and felt "understood" at long last. I am back in the dating arena after a long marriage. As a single mom in her mid40's I am constantly trying to battle middleaged men's fantasy images of what women should look like in order to be considered date/relationship worthy.

I am not that much overweight (approx 25 pounds) and have had the good fortune of dating some very fine men who never mentioned the weight I am also one of those people who have had a weight issue all my life despite eating a balanced diet and exercising. I have trained in the martial arts 3xs a week (sometimes more) for the past 6 years, yet while I consider myself "fit" I am still considered overweight by today's standards.

When I sometimes complain about not losing weight, well intentioned people will often suggest that I exercise. When I tell them I already do--and probably more often and more intensely than most people they know--they then tell me it must be the "wrong" exercise or I'd lose weight for sure!

Nature vs nuture is also something I'm convinced is at the root of obesity. I see what I eat vs what my thin friends eat and its usually half the amount. They also don't exercise and I do. So why are they thin and I am not? The eternal question.

Liz Jacobsen
watchung, nj


I believe the "problem" of obesity is far more complex. Because I grew up an obese child and young adult, I have researched and read just about everything I could get my hands on regarding this subject. I, like your 500 lb guest, was given amphetamines when I was young. I took them for approximately 5 years, which resulted in a life-long anxiety disorder. As soon as I got off the medication, the weight came back. I tried every diet in existence, with little or no success. Then, one day, I read a book that explained the difference between "emotional" hunger and "genuine" hunger. It was a real "eye opener" for me. I gradually learned to recognize these yearnings and realized that I had rarely, if ever, allowed myself to feel "genuine" hunger before. I also decided to think "health" rather than "diet". A "diet", at least in America, is defined as temporary, restictive eating in order to lose weight, however, the true definition is "one's USUAL food". Eating "healthy" should be a way of life. I incorporated excercise into my new, healthy lifestyle and, over the course of a year, lost 95 lbs. I know a year seems like an eternity, particularly to someone who is obese. However, I would not allow myself to think "diet" so, to me, it became just another year of my life.

I believe, as your program stated, that everyone does have their own, individual, ideal weight and finally learned what mine was. Once I reached slightly below that weight, I found it suprisingly easy to maintain. I had yo-yo'ed all my life and learned that losing 20 lbs, when I needed to lose 40 just didn't work. I came to the realization that, in order to maintain my weight loss, I had to get to or slightly below MY ideal weight in order to "reset my metabolic thermostat", so to speak. I think you also have to find what works for you. I found that I lost and maintained my weight on a diet rich in complex carbohydrates. I avoided processed foods and red meat and would concentrate on making sure I got enough vegetables and fruits in my daily diet. I learned to love the taste and texture of crunchy vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods. And, I ONLY ate until I was no longer hungry. I have slipped only twice over the past 17 years and gained back SOME of my weight. I am currently in my second slip and need to lose around 30 lbs to get back to my ideal weight of 115. But, with the knowledge and insight I have acquired, I know I can and will do it. Thank you for your program and helping to keep me focused on the solution, rather than the problem.

lafayette, la


Self image and acceptance is indeed a vital necessity required for over all successful and healthy living. America's children respond early to the media's powerful persuasion that beauty, labels, and love,all of which is easily obtainable, are the required elements for such a life. Healthy eating habits, physical fitness, and emotional intelligence become secondary, if not deleted focuses we as parents, the educational authorities, and child care providers promote in our youth's future. We are experiencing an introduction now to the wrath yet to come as teens and young adults demonstrate poor choices in those forgotten issues mentioned.

Angela Wester
savannah, georgia


Hi, watched your program "Fat" tonight. I think there is a lot of good information and compassion in it. I also think there may be a substantial area that I didn't see addressed. I am not obese, I do have many food allergies, therefore have done considerable research and experimentation with diet. Most Americans have not a clue how important the diet is to health, and are very reluctant to realize that what doctors and corp. boards call food is not necessarily good for them. There are many common foods that are sources of allergies, that go unrecognized and do great harm. Milk leads the list, but wheat and corn are close behind. The Key I think is research (individual) and knowledge.

Remember, the doctor has no incentive to make you well, that's up to you. thank you for a good series, and a good program. js

Jim Stinnett
vancouver, wa

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