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It's been nearly two years since a federal judge threw out a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's.  Two obese teens had claimed the fast-food chain made them fat.  Back then, the number of overweight Americans was still less than 24 percent of the population.

A new study by the organization Trust for America's Health suggests we're at 24.5 percent obese now, the number more startling if you weigh just adults.  That's 64.5 percent.

The organization's data drawn from the Centers for Disease Control, also shows that the percentage is unchanged in Oregon and up in all 49 other states.  The state of Mississippi weighed in as the net heaviest, Colorado the average lightest. 

The researchers remind us that health is only the first casualties.  Then it's wealth.  Obesity will soon strain the collective wallet of the health care system, although it will always make lots of money for people who invest in companies specializing in bigger seats on buses and door widening. 

As the community waistline expands, so, too, does the potential for health risks.  But if you're a doctor, and you try to tell those facts to a patient straight on, you might get sued.

One female patient filed a complaint with the state of New Hampshire after her doctor told her she was obese and needed to lose weight.  The state board of medicine investigated and turned it over to New Hampshire‘s attorney general, which asked Dr. Terry Bennett to take a medical education course and acknowledged he had “made a mistake.” 

Dr. Bennett says he doesn't think he had done anything wrong.  Now, he talks to Countdown host Keith Olbermann about the complaint and the massive issue in America.

KEITH OLBERMANN, 'COUNTDOWN' HOST: This sounds, on the whole, nuts.  What is she complaining about?  I mean, if you call her fat, fat, the water rat or something, I could understand this.  But what happened?  What did you say? 

DR. TERRY BENNETT, OBESITY ADVICE ANGERED PATIENT: You are running down a razor blade when you're talking to an obese patient of either gender.  They wouldn't be obese if they weren't really good at ignoring reality.  So, you have to overcome that mind-set and deliver the news without making somebody angry, because, if they're angry, you lose them. 

So, you're running right down a razor blade: too little, they don't buy it; too much, they‘re mad.  That's the case every time.  So, I always have to look at their face and figure out what's going on.  And I thought I was doing that. 

This woman walked out of my office, did not appear to be unhappy, went to get her husband, who is also grossly obese.  I had talked about the future for the both of them to her.  And, blindside, three weeks later, I get notice from the board that I have got a complaint.  Well, I have hundreds of obese patients.  There was one that's been on this television circuit with me, Linda Haney, who has been very articulate. 

She says, take a good look at me through the camera.  Take a good look at me, because you, Mr. and Mrs. America, are paying for me with your increased insurance premiums.  And it is going up and up. 

Well, OK, it is time.  But, if you look at the facts now, 60 percent, 65 percent, whatever number you want, are obese adults.  More than 70 percent of physicians no longer address this at all, because they're looking at the same kind of mind-set and the behavior that I have gotten here. 

Now, the regulations of New Hampshire say that the board does not address insult, does not address fees, does not address bedside manner.  Where do you think this falls if it is not amongst the insult bedside manner contingent? 

OLBERMANN: Yes, people who don't want to hear it.  But, now, you said that, you mentioned the razor's edge here. 


OLBERMANN: I have went overweight in varying degrees since I had my tonsils out when I was six.  I know exactly what you‘re talking.  I had one doctor, a cardiologist, who asked me, did you ever notice you don't see a lot of fat old people, which I thought was a heck of a way of getting the point across without basically saying, you're fat, buddy?

But I had another doctor who, when I told him that I had put some of the weight back on because I had had this leg injury and I hadn't been able to do workouts, he said, you know, being overweight has nothing to do with exercise. 

I never went to see him again.  Is there enough sensitivity to how much of a razor's edge that is in the medical community, do you think? 

BENNETT: Well, let me explain the exercise part, because it is interesting.  If you eat a teaspoon of sugar, you have got to brisk walk a mile-and-a-half to burn it off.  If you didn't eat it and you brisk walk, you burn off a teaspoon of fat. 

So, your weight is really starch-in-your-diet dependent.  And Atkins, in so far as he carried that concept, is right.  If you eliminate all the junk, all the stuff that Atkins was trying to peddle and simply look at the two fuels we begin — starches, fats — you don't eat starches, you burn fats, you can't eat them fast enough.  You burn you.  We call that losing weight. 

That's a simple concept and that is the one I try to get patients to buy into.  But they deny that they eat starches.  So, you have got to overcome all of that and get past it.  Then you can get them to lose weight. 

OLBERMANN: Was this woman a regular patient of yours?  Had she been there before? 

BENNETT: She had been five or six times.  I could never get her to step on my scale, so there is not a recorded weight in my chart.  I mean, it's that level of denial. 

OLBERMANN: Obviously, there is need for oversight at all times of the medical profession by government at each level.  But, do you feel like you're in a spider web here because of how this has spun out? 

BENNETT: The reason that I have gone public here is that, already, 70 percent, certainly, 70 percent of pediatricians — there's a Harvard released study — 70 percent of pediatricians do no confront the parents of obese kids in America now. 

I think it is about 70 percent of adult practitioners will write in your chart morbidly obese and not mention it to you, because, if they do, their 15 minutes expands to 20 or 30, they have got you unhappy and they may get a complaint, as I have had.  Well, that's a brave new world. 

I mean, if a doctor can't tell you the truth and expect to be defended in his right to do that, you can always change doctors.  It's not like I hold a gun to people's heads and make them come see me. 

They need to get value when they come to see me, in my view.

I have a lot of knowledge.  I have spent 40 years at this.  I have a prepared spiel that incorporates all these horrible facts.  And I tell them, look, this is going to be horrible.  This is what's going to happen, OK?  The future is clear.  If I can get to you believe, we choose a different future and you get to walk through the tulips with somebody that you love for a lot further in this life. 

Those are the choices.  It's that important.  If I can't do it, what do I do?  Talk about the weather?

OLBERMANN: Yes.  How is this case going to end, do you think? 

BENNETT: If I have it my way, and if the patients — there's more than 100 patients that have signed a petition to the governor that he should fire our attorney general.  The attorney general could have shut this off at any point in time. 

There's no crime here.  I have broken no law.  You cannot say that I have done anything offensive in the greater scheme of things.  Certainly, I'm not an addict.  I'm not an alcoholic.  They've tried to make me admit that I'm a disruptive physician.  Not true.  Not happening.  Thanks. 

OLBERMANN: Dr. Terry Bennett, well, I guess at least the petition from the 100 patients must be the silver lining in this.  Our great thanks for your time and good luck getting the message out. 

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