On Blacks and Fat: Pete Thomas

Forget the phrase "big-boned" and focus on daily fuel goals, says the Biggest Loser winner.

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PT: There are a couple of things in the African-American community. One is, "I'm big-boned." No, you're not big-boned; your bone structure is the same as everyone else's. You're not big-boned; you just have a whole lot of padding that you put on there.

The other thing we tend to do is to say, "I'm not fat, I'm healthy." And what we don't realize is that type of healthy is what you want chickens that are fed a whole bunch of steroids to be. Nice, big, fat and plump. You're ready for the slaughter! That's a problem.

And the fact is, people who age well are smaller sized. You don't see anyone 80 years old who is 400 pounds. There are no obese people in nursing homes.

TR: If you could make just one suggestion for people to implement in their daily lives with respect to weight and health, what would it be?

PT: The one tip every day, which is one of the things I have in the book, is that you need to come to understand your personal daily fuel goal. That's the number or amount of calories your body needs per day. Once you have an understanding of that, you understand from there that any extra fuel you get, your body stores.

PT: We have come to accept obesity as somewhat sexy. If you look at rap videos, and whatever these magazines are -- King, XXL, whatever -- basically, you have young girls who are obese. And we have highlighted them and featured them as being some type of sex symbol. So young girls look at that, and they have no consciousness of the relationship between weight and health.

There's probably also an economic dynamic as well. In our community, there are certain food deserts where you can't find healthy options. It was a big deal here in Michigan when Whole Foods decided that they were going to build a facility in one of those areas.

And the [sometimes generic] messaging that comes from the government and certain entities is just really, really poor. Anytime someone says the same thing over and over again and you're not getting results, that's a problem with the person presenting the information.

There's a study out of Baltimore where they took a sign and put it next to a pop machine, saying how many miles you would need to run to burn off a can of pop. And pop sales went down. That's a different message than what you would normally hear about the number of calories. By changing the messaging to address that audience, they were able to change the results there.

[The lesson for anti-obesity advocates:] Don't keep saying the same dumb thing over and over and expect communities to change. Say it differently based on what the community is ... I think if you hire an African-American advertising agency to explore -- or if you had a spokesperson like me who knows my community and can speak to how it operates -- [results] would be different. [An ad about healthy living] needs to be culturally appropriate. Car companies gear their messages to different communities. The same thing should happen with health and nutrition.