Fat America

Illustration By: Mark Matcho


Despite dire warnings from public-health officials, Americans keep packing on the pounds. Bad news for our hearts and kidneys, but
good news for the marketplace, which can now sell us Atkins shakes and supersize
showers. Entrepreneur.com sees the hefty (along with metrosexuals and Hispanics) as one
of 2004’s six hottest markets. “Plus-size is morphing into regular size,” gushes an analyst.
“There are no boundaries.” Indeed:

Whole Girth Catalog: Amplestuff.com offers airline seatbelt
extenders, scales that go up to 1,000 pounds, “extra-large fanny packs,” “big bibs”
and wearable napkins, and, for those who can no longer bend over, sock installers, lotion
appliers, leg lifters, and (depressingly) porta-bidets.

No Butts About It: Theaters and stadiums are widening most seats by four inches and instituting
“persons-of-size sections.”

Mile Wide Club: After “overloading” was suspected in a small plane crash last year, the
FAA upped its estimate of the average passenger’s weight from 180 to 195 pounds.

An Apple Pie a Day: In part to accommodate the boom in gastric bypasses, hospitals are
rolling out bigger, sturdier gurneys, operating tables, ambulances, wheelchairs, walkers,
and, of course, gowns.

Lazy Boys & Girls: Berkline’s new “XL-Series” motorized recliners can bear 600 pounds.
“There seems to be an insatiable appetite for these products,” says a company V.P.

Hippo-crisy: In February 2003, McDonald’s quietly dropped plans to use healthier oil.
Six months later, it released “Happy Meals for Adults,” which include a salad, an exercise booklet,
and a pedometer.

Speaks Volumes: What Are You Looking At?, “the first fat fiction anthology,” was published
last fall by Harvest Books.

Very Big Adventures: The staff of Freedom Paradise, “the first and only size-friendly
resort in the world,” reportedly watches Beauty and the Beast as sensitivity training.

This End Up: The 44-inch “triple wide” wasn’t big enough, so Goliath Casket just introduced
the B-52, designed to hold a 1,100-pound corpse. The company reports its sales are swelling
20 percent annually.