Entries in Obesity (168)


Brooklyn Man Sues Former Employer for Weight Discrimination

Courtesy Seth Bogdanove(NEW YORK) -- A Brooklyn man has sued his former employer for firing him because of his weight, court documents show.

A lawsuit, filed June 19 in the Kings County Supreme Court, maintains that Jerry Greenberg, the owner of the art framing store Frame it in Brooklyn Inc., withdrew an offer of employment to Seth Bogdanove because he was too overweight.

Bogdanove worked at Frame it in Brooklyn from 1994 to 2008, according to court documents.  He told ABC News that he did not want to discuss why he left the store, but emphasized that his decision had nothing to do with medical issues.

After he left, he took adult education classes at the School of Visual Arts and opened a digital archiving and restoration service in 2009, Bogdanove said.

In December 2012, Greenberg e-mailed Bogdanove and asked him to return, Bogdanove said. He added that he agreed and was set to start in January 2013.

But when he arrived at Frame it in Brooklyn, he said, Greenberg told him he was no longer welcome.
According to the court documents, Greenberg allegedly told Bogdanove, “Oh, my god, what happened to you, you got so fat!”

Bogdanove repeated that same allegation in an interview with ABC News. He said Greenberg handed him $5 to reimburse him for transportation costs and has not spoken to him since.

According to the lawsuit, Bogdanove suffers from obesity partially because of medications he has to take. He told ABC News that he had the medical conditions for seven years while he worked with Greenberg. He was obese when he left in 2008, but subsequently put on approximately 70 pounds.

“I decided to sue him because he told me I was too fat to work for him and it hurt my feelings and made me feel like less of a person,” said Bogdanove.

Bogdanove’s lawyer, Noah Kinigstein, would not comment other than to provide a copy of the lawsuit.
Greenberg could not be reached for comment, despite repeated phone calls to his store. He told the New York Daily News that he had considered giving Bogdanove freelance work but he looked ill when he showed up.

Bogdanove denied looking ill.

“I had no problem going up the stairs, nor was I sweating,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mother's Obesity Surgery May Break Cycle in Kids

George Doyle/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children born to mothers who have undergone weight-loss surgery weigh less than their siblings born before the mother's surgery.

According to a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, not only were children conceived post-surgery less likely to be obese, they also had fewer risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. Researchers believe that because mothers absorb less fat and fewer calories after their surgery, the nutritional environment in their womb may be altered, training their children's genes to work differently.

While obesity may pass along problems from mother to child, researchers are not yet certain whether the benefits seen by children conceived after weight-loss surgery are permanent.

Additionally, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that a mother's weight when they conceive is not all that matters. While mothers are supposed to gain weight during pregnancy, packing on too many pounds can significantly increase the child's risk of obesity and diabetes.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obese World Cup Soccer Fans Get Extra Wide Seating in Brazil

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK ) -- Brazil is famous for tiny bikinis and a national passion for all things sports and fitness. Perhaps that’s why it’s so shocking the country is faced with an obesity problem — one grown so large that the 2014 World Cup stadiums being built for this summer’s Confederations Cup will include seating for fans with extra wide bottoms.

A statement posted on  the Brazilian government’s World Cup website reads in part, “From the total of 63,903 seats, 1,675 are reserved for obese people, or people with disabilities.

“This number corresponds to 2.4 percent of the stadium’s capacity, which is more than the minimum requirement of 1 percent anticipated by the World Cup General Bill and administrative rule No 205 of the Ministry of Sport that regulates the issue. At the Castelão, 335 seats are reserved for wheel chair users, 1,220 for people with reduced mobility and 120 for obese people,” the statement said.

According to the U.K. newspaper The Sun, the stadium seats will be double-wide and accommodate up to 560 pounds. In case the extra large dimensions aren’t enough of a giveaway, the seats will also be identified by their bright blue color.

The price tag for all that extra room will be bloated to twice the cost of regular-sized seating.

Despite its reputation as a country filled with svelte, toned and tanned citizens, the average Brazilian silhouette has ballooned in size. Forty-eight percent of Brazilian adult women and 50 percent of men are now considered overweight, according to a survey done by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE.)

One in seven Brazilian adults is classified as obese. That’s a spike of nearly 10 percent since 2004 and more the double the obesity rate recorded just four decades ago.

As one of the largest producers of sugar in the world, part of the Brazil’s weight problem stems from an insatiable appetite for sweets, especially in liquid form, said Barry Popkin, a W. R. Kenan Jr. distinguished professor in the school of public health at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

“More than 18 percent of their calories come from beverages, which is only slightly lower than the U.S.,” he said. “Sugar in food is just an empty calorie, but when added to coffee, soda and other drinks, it adds calories but doesn’t reduce consumption.”

Popkin has written several papers based on Brazil’s first-ever national diet survey, completed two years ago. Besides a thirst for sweetened beverages, he also noted that Brazilians snack more and eat more processed foods than ever before, and they watch more TV and exercise less than at any point in their history despite a government campaign to get them up and moving.

Health experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international health agencies have warned if the trend continued, Brazilian obesity rates could match those of the U.S. as soon as 2022.

Even now, Americans haven’t cornered the market on obesity. The U.S. only ranks eighth among the world’s fattest nations.

The distinction for fattest country belongs to the tiny Caribbean island of Nauru where, according to WHO statistics, a whopping 95 percent of inhabitants have a “pre-obese” Body Mass Index of 25 or higher.

The average Nauruan’s BMI is 34 — a label that puts Nauruans in WHO’s “Class I” category of obesity. Class III, or super-obese, is the highest level of obesity and reserved for those with a BMI of 40 or higher. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.99 is considered healthy.

The U.S. does win the crown for the greatest rise in BMI of all developed nations between 1980 and the present.

With more than 70 percent of residents classified as overweight or obese, Mexico is the heaviest Latin American nation, Popkin’s studies show. And despite diet books extolling the virtues of a French diet, Popkin found that Scandinavian countries have the lowest number of overweight people of all the high-income countries; just under 10 percent of Scandinavians are classified as overweight. The title of thinnest nation in the low-income category belongs to Chad, where fewer than five percent of people are overweight.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Study Tying Women’s Weight Gain to Housework Draws Fire for Coke Link

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A group of researchers now says that one reason modern women may be packing on the pounds is because they’re not doing the heavy lifting around the house that they once did.

“We looked at 91 different activities — going to the gym, walking the dog — and the only thing that influenced their energy expenditure was the work in the home,” said Edward Archer, a University of South Carolina research fellow and the study’s lead author. “That’s why the study focused on that.”

In the study, a team of University of South Carolina researchers at the Arnold School of Public Health compared the activity logs kept by stay-at-home women from 1965 until today and found that in 1965, women spent 25.7 hours a week pushing tank-like vacuums, dusting, mopping, cooking and washing.

But in 2010, women spent 13.3 hours a week on household chores — and they are also 22 pounds heavier than their 1965 counterparts.

The results were published this month in PLOS One.


Archer said the study was not intended to tell women they are fat because they don’t do housework.

“The take-home message is not that women should be doing more housework but rather that women and individuals in general should find ways of integrating physical activity into their day,” Archer said. “How you spend your day determines health....How you spend your day determines the health of the next generation.”

Other experts, however, said the obesity epidemic was caused by a long list of factors that included not just physical activity but diet, genetics and economic status. They also questioned the motives of Coca-Cola, which sponsored the study.

“It makes no sense for Coca-Cola to be funding studies on causes of obesity because they are one of the causes for obesity,” said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for food policy and obesity at Yale University. “It would be like taking money from the tobacco industry to find other causes of lung cancer. It really makes no sense at all.”

Women also fired back on Twitter.

“The 1950s called and they want their article back,” said one tweet.

Archer said the source of the study’s funding was “irrelevant.”

“We should be turning focus on ourselves,” he said. “What we can do for ourselves, especially in the context of our health and especially in the context of our children.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chairs, Buses and More Redesigned to Accommodate Obese People

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the past year, some hospitals spent as much as $5 million to update and enlarge their facilities to accommodate obese patients, according to a recently released report by Novation LLC, an Irving, Texas, health-care supply chain company that produces annual commentary on the cost of bariatric care.

Larger patients need supersize beds, chairs and wheelchairs, open MRI machines and toilets bolted to the floor instead of the wall, the report noted.  But with more than 200,000 weight-loss surgeries performed each year at a cost of up to $26,000 per surgery, many hospitals consider the extra cost a wise investment.

Hospitals are just one example of the way the world is adapting to accommodate expanding waistlines.  Here are six more areas that have been recently plumped up in response to the more than 68 percent of Americans who are now considered either overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The Workplace

Studies estimate the total cost of obesity to U.S. employers at $73 billion a year.  That number doesn't factor in the everyday ways businesses are changing the physical workspace for a plus-size work force.

Take the office chair.  Chair seller ErgoHuman in Austin, Texas, said the average office chair is for a 250-300 pound person, tops.  Clearly, that's not strong enough for many American workers.

Seeing a need, Ergogenesis was one of many manufacturers that introduced chairs for the extra large in the past few years.  Its Bodybilt chairs were designed with an extra wide "bariatric" seat pan that can support someone who weighs up to 600 pounds.  The chair has a hefty price tag too -- $1,300 -- but the company reports it's selling briskly.  One government agency bought 645 of them in 2012.


If it seems as if it's harder to get a seat on the bus in recent years, that would be right.  In 2011, the Federal Transit Authority proposed raising the assumed average weight per bus passenger from 150 pounds to 175 pounds, which could mean that across the country, fewer people will be allowed on city transit buses.

The transit authority also proposed adding an additional few inches of floor space per passenger.  The changes are being sought "to acknowledge the expanding girth of the average passenger," the agency said in a statement.


A woman's size 14 at the Gap in 2008 fit someone with a 37-inch bust, 29-inch waist and 39-inch hips.  Today, that size has crept up to fit someone who's 37.5-29.5-40.

Many clothing manufacturers now engage in this "vanity sizing" because they know the psychological boost someone might get from wearing a garment two sizes smaller, even when they've undergone some obvious expansion.  Today's size 4 was a size 8 two decades ago.


"Finding a scale that went higher than 300 pounds was nearly impossible a few years ago," said Gary Shane, the sales manager for the Precision Weighing Co., a website that sells scales.  "Now they routinely go up to 400 or 500 pounds."

Shane's company does a brisk business selling models such as the Siltec Model WS1000, which measure up to 1,000 pounds of body weight.  Some are sold to TV production companies whose programs focus on people needing to lose big.

It isn't just a matter of registering larger numbers; a well-designed obesity or "bariatric" scale has a significantly roomier platform to accommodate larger feet plus support bars or arm rests.  Shane noted that the new specialty scales are an improvement over those of a decade ago, when hospitals weighed in heftier patients on basement laundry scales.


Extreme obesity complicates the simplest things, even something as basic as going to the bathroom.  Enter Big John, makers of oversize toilet seats.  They cater to the more than 72 million overweight Americans by offering generously padded seats that are 19 inches wide and 2 inches taller than the standard seat, which measures 14 inches wide.  They have a weight capacity of 1,200 pounds.

Big John also sells supports that can be placed under the bowl to bolster the typical wall hung toilet, which has been known to crack or collapse under heavy loads.  Since the company started making the seats in 2004, revenue has skyrocketed, increasing 50 percent every year, according to the company.


Even in death, some people require extra leg room.  Laurens Fish, director of the Weed-Corley Fish Funeral Home near Austin, Texas, said he's begun selling caskets up to 54 inches wide, more than double the size of the standard 24-inch width.  When Goliath Casket began producing triple-wide caskets, which hold up to 700 pounds comfortably, in the late 1980s, it sold an average of one per year.  Now, it ships half a dozen models a month.

As in life, having some extra girth makes death more expensive too.  Super-size caskets carry a price tag of up to $3,000 more than the average-priced casket.  If a larger plot and concrete vault are required, that can add $1,000 to burial costs.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Stigma Against Fat People Is the Last Acceptable Prejudice, Studies Find

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At a time when obesity is seen as a serious public health threat, research has found a growing prejudice against fat people.

Last week, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University published a study suggesting that male jurors didn't administer blind justice when it came to plus-size female defendants.

Female jurors displayed no prejudice against fat defendants but men -- especially lean men -- were far more likely to slap a guilty verdict on an overweight woman and were quicker to label her a repeat offender with an "awareness of her crimes."

Another recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that top managers with a high body mass index were judged more harshly and seen as less effective than their slimmer colleagues by their peers, both at work and in interpersonal relationships.

Rebecca Puhl, one of the Yale researchers who co-wrote the juror study, said these displays of fat stigma are par for the course.

"Thinness has come to symbolize important values in our society, values such as discipline, hard work, ambition and willpower.  If you're not thin, then you don't have them," she said.

Previous research by Puhl and her associates found that prejudice against fat people was pervasive and translated into inequities across broad areas of life.

Some examples: Fifty percent of doctors found that fat patients were "awkward, ugly, weak-willed and unlikely to comply with treatment," and 24 percent of nurses said they were repulsed by their obese patients.  Nearly 30 percent of teachers said that becoming obese was "the worst thing that can happen to someone" -- and more than 70 percent of obese people said they had been ridiculed about their weight by a family member.

Kenlie Tiggeman, a political consultant who lives in New Orleans, said she's never needed a study to highlight hostility against fat people.  As someone who has lost 120 pounds but has a 100 more to lose, she lives it.

Last year, Tiggeman was thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight not once but twice because the carrier deemed her "too fat to fly."  According to Tiggeman and witnesses, she was stopped at the gate both times by airline employees who proceeded to quiz her loudly about her weight and dress size before denying her boarding access.

Far from being an isolated incidence, Tiggeman said the experience was symptomatic of what she encounters every day.

"Just last week I was at the swimming pool in my gym when I overheard a woman on her cell tell a friend she was whale watching," Tiggeman said.  "She was looking right at me.  I know she was talking about me."

People have no qualms aiming such overt cruelty at obese people, Puhl said, because there are few consequences.  She said that fat stigma is rarely challenged and often ignored.  In effect, it's the last acceptable prejudice.

"There are no federal laws on the books that make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of body weight, so on the whole it remains legal.  That sends a message that it's no big deal," said Puhl.

Puhl suspects that public health campaigns branding obesity as a disease are sometimes perceived as criticizing individuals rather than the environmental and social factors that lead to weight gain.  This, she said, gives some people license to engage in public fat-shaming.

She also believes media portrayals of heavy people as fat, lazy and gluttonous do them no favors.

"Overweight people are usually shown in stereotypical ways -- engaged in out of control eating or bingeing on junk food -- and they are often shown as the target of humor or ridicule," she pointed out.  "With the amount of media we all consume, it's no wonder these stereotypes stick."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Coca-Cola Sugar Hiccup: Soda Giant on the Defense

Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coca-Cola has been a staple in American lives for more than 100 years and its iconic advertisements have shaped the soda industry from its 1930s depictions of jolly ol' St. Nick to its recent polar bear commercials.

One from 1961 even advertised Coke as a diet beverage -- "There's no waistline worry with Coke, you know," the pitchwoman said.

Most studies and experts agree that claim is not true -- but now, a new ad from Coke claims its low-sugar and sugar-free beverages can to be part of the obesity solution. The two-minute commercial was set to air on national cable news stations starting Monday night.

It may be the company's reaction to a full-fledged assault on sugary sodas that has included school bans, proposed taxes and an often-mocked New York City effort to eliminate the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces.

Coca-Cola said in a news release that the goal was to "highlight some of the specifics behind the company's ongoing commitment to deliver more beverage choices, including low- and no-calorie options, and to clearly communicate the calorie content of all its products."

The commercial, called "Coming Together," included facts about the company's initiatives, noting, "Of over 650 beverages, we now offer 180 ... low- and no-calorie choices."

The average American drinks 45 gallons of sugary soft drinks a year, equivalent to one-and-a-half barrels of soda pop. In fact, sugary sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet. Even the smallest can, the eight-ounce size, has the equivalent of approximately six sugar cubes. The 20-ounce size has around 14 sugar cubes and the 7-Eleven "Super Big Gulp" more than 30.

Critics argue they are not ordinary calories, either, but are empty of nutrition and don't tell the body it is full.

"With beverages, we'll drink the calories and then consume more foods on top of those calories," Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), told ABC News. "When the body eats a steak or asparagus, it senses that it consumed calories and then will reduce its caloric intake later in the day. It doesn't happen with soft drinks."

CSPI published a video that went viral just this past fall called "The Real Bears," which graphically depicted the health effects of over-consumption of sugary beverages.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage company, also promotes exercise programs to work off what you drink. A second new spot debuting Wednesday during American Idol, called "Be OK," according to a news release, will make "it perfectly clear right up front that a can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories. This spot also encourages people to have some fun burning those calories off."

Coca-Cola declined comment to ABC News on the commercials but referred reporters to Russell Pate, a professor with Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina. He told ABC News that the changes made by the food and beverage industry should be "supported, and more improvement is to be encouraged."

He added that a major origin of the obesity problem is "declining physical activity over recent decades."

"I think we have millions of Americans trying to eat down to their level of inactivity, and it's not working well," Pate said. "I believe strongly we will have to increase the physical activity level of our population if we want to overcome the obesity epidemic that we are currently challenged by."

Coke is not the only soda company getting heat. Pepsi hired Beyonce for undisclosed millions to promote its product at the Super Bowl and in new TV ads.

Mark Bittman, food writer for The New York Times, said the superstar is making a "bad decision" to work with the beverage company.

"She has associated herself with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign -- a campaign to eat better [and] move more ... and now [she is] pushing Pepsi, really quite the opposite of that," he said. "She might consider giving some or all of this money to charity."

Both Beyonce's public relations team and PepsiCo, the maker of Pepsi, declined to comment to ABC News.

A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which represents the non-alcoholic beverage industry, told ABC News that it has partnered with Michelle Obama on her "Let's Move" campaign, as well as Bill Clinton to encourage a "meaningful impact on the complex issue of obesity."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Male Jurors Biased Against Obese Women, Study Shows

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Male jurors are more likely to find obese women guilty than lean women, but they didn’t show the same weight bias against their own gender, a Yale University study found.

Researchers showed 471 study participants a photo of one of four people -- a lean woman, an obese woman, a lean man or an obese man -- and asked them to determine whether that person was guilty of an imaginary check fraud crime on a scale of 1 to 5.  Men were more likely to find the obese woman guilty than the lean woman, and the results were statistically significant.

“I think it’s one more nail in the coffin of how painful it is for people that are of larger sizes,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association.  “These people could be healthy.  We’re judging people.  We’re making stereotypes.  We did this with race years ago.  We did it with religion.”

She added that while obese people are perceived as lazy or sloppy, people should remember that obese people don’t choose to be large.  They may have medical problems, different genes or a newly identified mental illness associated with binge eating.

Lead researcher Natasha Schvey said she and her team controlled for age and attractiveness by using the same woman twice and photo-shopping her to be both lean and obese.  They did the same for the men.

Schvey said she’d read about weight bias in other settings, such as office environments, but wondered whether it existed in the justice system.

“This seemed like a critical gap in the literature on weight stigma,” Schvey said, adding that it’s not clear whether negative socioeconomic perception based on body mass factored into the results.  “Since this is really just the first study of its kind, we just wanted to determine whether or not something might be going on.”

Ultimately, she said, the results were “disappointing but not entirely surprising.”  Men tend to judge women more harshly than men, and women tend to be more sympathetic.  The female study participants showed no weight bias.

“I think [it may be] because many women have gone on diets and had difficult times, and they’re not meeting their weight goals,” Grefe said.  “I think they’re more understanding.  A piece of it is [that] they feel sorry for them because they’ve been through it themselves.”

Grefe thinks there should to be anti-discrimination laws on the books for weight just as there are for race, religion and sexual orientation.

But women can take some comfort in the fact that mock jury studies isolate specific factors that rarely make their way into actual jury verdicts, said Paula Hannaford-Agor, the director of the Center for Jury Studies.

“Most studies of actual jury trials show that the weight of the evidence is the single most important factor affecting jury verdicts,” Hannaford-Agor said.  “Factors such as victim, defendant and juror demographic characteristics only account for a negligible portion of variation in jury verdicts.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Will Smart Fork Stop Stupid Eating?

HAPILABS(LAS VEGAS) -- At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a company is betting its new fork will be the latest weapon in the battle of the bulge.

HAPILABS' HAPIfork is designed to monitor a user's meal times and eating habits, vibrating when an eater chows down too quickly, or takes too many bites too soon.

What's more, all of that information can be downloaded to an user's computer or phone after every meal so they can track their eating habits via a special app.

The fork will be available to order beginning in April, at a cost of $99.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Company Patents DIY Stomach Pump

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Inventor Dean Kamen, the man who tried to make exercise obsolete with the Segway, is now using technology to shortcut sensible eating.

According to the U.K.'s Independent, Kamen has applied for a patent for a device that allows people who can't stop eating too much to literally pump excess food from their own stomach.

The device would attach to a valve that would be surgically installed on a patient.  Kamen reportedly envisions the new add-on as an alternative to other kinds of surgery that have become a more popular option for the morbidly obese.

Trials are already underway, and the paper reports this early version of the pump has clogged at times with a variety of food, including vegetables, french fries and Chinese food.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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