The Best of Andy Rooney

I'm only talking to overweight people today. The rest of you can move on to something else in the paper.

Haven't you often felt it was unfair that you see skinny people eating French fries and chocolate fudge sundaes and never gaining a pound? Haven't you noticed that a lot of people eat exactly the same things you eat and they stay the same weight, while you blow up? It is one of the unfairest things I've come across in my lifetime, but there's good news.

Thin people of the world owe an apology to all of us average, normal, everyday overweight people. If we all had been falsely imprisoned, we wouldn't have been any more falsely maligned than we have been by thin people all these years.

They always suggest it's our own fault, and it is not. Why? Because according to an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, which seems to have a monopoly on medical announcements, it isn't the fault of fat people that they're fat.

It isn't us, it's our metabolism that's to blame. It was only a matter of time before scientists, in their maddeningly slow, methodical way, discovered it, but they finally have found out why a lot of people get fat through no fault of their own and why a lot of people stay thin through no virtue of their own. I've suspected all along that it wasn't my fault.

All overweight people know in their hearts it isn't their fault.

We can be around thin people who are eating the same things we eat for weeks and, while we get fat, they stay the same. Make no mistake about this, it's good news for overweights. It could mean the end of weight loss programs and the feeling of inferiority we all feel because we're fat. It's good to know my weight is not a result of weakness or a flaw in my character.

It is apparent I have a lethargic metabolism.

A big piece of chocolate cake goes further in my body than it does in the body of a skinny person. (I prefer "skinny" to "thin," just as I prefer the word "overweight" to "fat.") It isn't that fat people eat too much, it's that their furnaces are always banked. "Obese people," says Dr. Jules Hirsch, a doctor at Rockefeller University in New York, "are born with a handicap. Just like people born with other handicaps, they will have to learn to live with theirs."

Next thing you know, they'll be giving us handicapped, overweight-people stickers for the windshields of our cars so we can park right up near the entrance to the store in the handicapped-parking places. The doctors who made this report say that when an overweight person makes a big effort to diet and loses weight, his or her metabolism declines even further.

As metabolism declines, the body uses less of the food taken in and turns the rest to fat.

That's why it's so hard to keep off the weight you lose. The researchers for this project kept track of their subjects for two years.

They found that the people who were destined to gain weight burned 80 calories a day fewer than people of comparable weight.

It is reported that a person who burns a mere 80 calories a day less than usual would gain nine pounds a year. According to these figures, I must have a world-champion low rate of metabolism.

It's wonderful to know that it wasn't my fault.

(This classic Rooney column was originally published March 11, 1988.)

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