Video: Fat is phat

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updated 8/11/2004 5:20:54 PM ET 2004-08-11T21:20:54

The last year has been one that signaled change in the issue of obesity.

Last spring, lawsuits claiming that fast food chains had hooked overweight people on fat were laughed at. 

Last summer, many of those same companies began to alter their menus.

The Atkins Diet went from a fad to a lifestyle choice.

Thus in our number two story on the Countdown: the inevitable backlash.

In New Jersey this week, delegates from around the country, joined together to re-claim the word “fat.” It was a gathering of the great, a convention of the chubby, an assemblage of avoir-dupois.

Welcome to NAAFA, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.  They’re celebrating 35 years promoting super-sized fashion, fitness, and fun. These women are tired of hearing "Thin is in." When it comes to health and happiness, they say size doesn’t matter. The only dirty word… is “diet.”

“Ninety to ninety-eight percent of people who lose weigh on a diet gain it back,” says Marilyn Wann, NAAFA board member. “I just wouldn’t recommend something with that kind of failure rate.”

Wann is working with NAAFA to challenge what she says is the medical establishment’s campaign against obesity. “I encourage people to question the propaganda and hysteria around the so-called obesity epidemic because I just don’t see it. I see people like me.”

NAAFA supporter Paul Campos agrees. “A very significant portion of the population is going to be quite a bit heavier than the government guidelines tell everybody what they’re supposed to be," says Campos. "There’s nothing you can do about that. It makes as much sense to say that everybody should be thin as saying everybody should be tall.”

“What I would really love from healthcare providers is for people to look at my health and not my weight. They should stop assuming correlation is causation,” adds Wann. “Just because a fat person has a health problem doesn’t mean that the fat caused them to have that.”

True, but doctors point out that for some, more pounds may mean more problems. “There are associations between body weight and certain diseases like type two diabetes, sleep apnea and hypertension,” points out Dr. Michael Rosenbaum of Columbia University. "95 percent of Type Two diabetic adults and children are overweight, so it doesn’t take and M.D. to tell you there’s some association there."

But here, “livin’ large” means simply eating right and keeping fit. And  though caution is prescribed, (Rosenbaum says your doctor should take a look at your level of body fatness and consider it in the context of your family history of diseases that would be made worse by being overweight), the bottom line is “fat” is NOT a four letter word.

“We want an end to weight based discrimination and a celebration of every type of beautiful body,” says Wann.

This was the No. 2 story on Tuesday's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." The show airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET.

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