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7/14/2001 - Palo Alto California

Size Acceptance Activist Offers New Battle Cry for Philadelphians

Philadelphians, are you sick and tired of hearing the mayor tell you what you can and can't eat? Have you had enough of people trying to sign you up for citywide dieting? Are you weary of publicity stunts that fan the flames of hostility toward overweight people?

Size acceptance activist Bonnie Bernell will be in Philadelphia Aug. 16-19 for the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) convention held in neighboring Cherry Hill, N.J. She states that Philadelphia is being unduly singled out as "the flabbiest city in America,"* and the famed Philly Cheesesteak sandwich wrongly maligned. Bernell will be discussing the following weight-related issues:

* Diets don't work. Would you buy a car that had only a two percent chance of starting? Ninety-eight percent of the time diets fail, with people returning either to their former weight or higher. Yet corporate giants rake in $56 billion dollars annually in the profitable diet industry, as they continue to sell products offering false hope at best and dangerous health conditions at worst to millions of Americans.

* Movement does work. If you want to be healthy, move. You don't have to go to a gym or exercise class-walking, dancing, gardening-even just a little every day-can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase physical stamina and strength, and enhance flexibility and alertness-even if you don't lose weight. And a large person who is physically active is healthier than a thin person who is not.

* Why doctors can be harmful to fat people's health. When doctors meet with overweight patients, they tend to get fixated on the weight, seeing the fat instead of a whole person. Physicians often refuse to examine these patients or perform standard tests, instead sending them home to lose weight before treating them, and insisting that any illness or symptom must be due to weight. This hostile attitude towards weight, so pervasive in the medical community, can cause its members to withhold necessary treatments and intimidate large people to delay or avoid medical care appointments-thus increasing risk to their health.

"Although it's good that Philadelphians are thinking about their health, the bad news is the mayor and the media are barking up the wrong tree," Bernell says. "The public--both in Philadelphia and throughout our nation--is being deceived by a $56 billion diet industry with a two percent success rate, and media continues to support this hype!" she adds.

Bonnie Bernell is the featured speaker for NAAFA's farewell brunch on Sunday, Aug. 19 (to be held at the Cherry Hill Hilton, 2349 West Marlton Pike, Cherry Hill, NJ), and author of the recently published award-winning book BOUNTIFUL WOMEN: Large Women's Secrets for Living the Life They Desire ( Bernell grew up in the Philadelphia area; she is currently a Silicon Valley psychologist specializing in large people's issues.

Bernell is available for media interviews to defend both the Philly Cheesesteak as "a great American meal" and the city's populace as "wonderful at any size," and to clarify misconceptions/distortions that you must lose weight to have good health.

*Based on a 1999 survey by Men's Health magazine For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Patsy Barich at 510/704-3774, or e-mail to

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