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Are You Getting Fat?

July 23, 2006

People are really getting fat lately, aren't they? Other people, of course. Certainly not us. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, about 90% of Americans think most of their fellow countrymen are overweight, but only 39% regard themselves as fat. What we have is a culture that encourages self-delusion even as it accommodates itself to an expanding national girth.

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SELECTIVE PERCEPTIONS ABOUT FAT

Most Americans are overweight.

90% agree

very overweight: 37%

a little overweight: 53%

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Most of the people you know are overweight.

70% agree

very: 12%

a little: 58%

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Are you overweight?

39% agree

very: 5%

somewhat: 16%

a little: 18%

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Source: Pew Research Center

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GETTING A BIG START

Children's car seats aren't big enough anymore. Manufacturers are introducing even bigger models. Britax's "Husky" seat, for example, is four inches wider than the standard model.

Source: Associated Press

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YOUR SLIPPAGE IS SHOWING

In 1983, the Department of Commerce withdrew its standards for women's clothing sizes. Size numbers cease to mean much, as manufacturers apply old numbers to bigger clothes.

Source: Columbia University

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RELAX YOU LOOK GREAT!

When aging boomer men decide to keep wearing jeans, the industry is glad to accommodate them. The appearance in the 1980s of "relaxed fit" pants allows men to sport jeans and still sit down. Though men's waist sizes are based on seemingly intractable "inches," there are reports of slippage on that front too.

Source: Columbia University

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LIVIN' LARGE

Furniture isn't big enough. Oversized chairs (without arms) for home and office are now available, as are reinforced beds, love seats--and extra-wide toilet seats.

Source: Associated Press

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TRAVELING LIGHT?

Assumptions about the weights of passengers on boats and small planes are under review after a series of fatal accidents. Boat operators had been setting passenger limits based on Coast Guard standards set in 1942, when Americans weighed an average of 140 pounds. The average weight of the 25 passengers aboard a Baltimore water taxi that capsized in 2004 was 168 pounds. Passenger weight was also a factor in the 2003 crash of a plane in North Carolina.

Source: Associated Press

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MY BIG FAT DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT

Beyond the rising rates of heart disease and diabetes, "bariatric" care, or treatment of the seriously obese, has emerged as a medical specialty. It requires longer needles, wider gurneys, wider doorways and even bigger MRI machines.

Source: Associated Press

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WIDER PEALRY GATES

Coffins aren't big enough anymore. The coffin industry is making bigger caskets, including steel-reinforced models that are four inches wider than the old standard size.

Source: Associated Press

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