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They're happy and healthy--not thin

October 12, 2009 |  5:25 pm

Diet story With the average weight of Americans steadily rising, and with study after study showing just how hard it is for most people to shed pounds and keep them off--perhaps it's no surprise that attitudes are shifting, too.

This week's Health section has a package of stories about people who fall squarely into the government's definition of "overweight." After years of yo-yo dieting, they have shifted their approach. They're saying goodbye to trying again and again to achieve an ideal weight. Instead, they're opting to live healthily and feel good about their bodies and the way they live their lives--extra pounds and all.

People like 37-year-old Maria Canul, 5 feet 2 and a curvy 180 pounds, who eats a nutritious diet, exercises for 30 minutes almost every day on a StairMaster, does light yoga daily and goes for walks:

"Like an increasing number of people who fall outside the normal weight box on BMI charts, she's fine with how she looks, thank you. The striking redhead is healthy, fit, happy--and has no problem attracting men. Canul now sees society coming around to her view as well.

" 'I see it in the reaction from men and even in the media. There's more appreciation of larger women. I'm getting hit on a lot, so apparently my weight isn't an issue for some. I think I look pretty average. Thin is on the way out....12 is the average size of women today, and I don't have to be a size 2 ever again.' "

The article also notes that "when so much of the population falls outside the normal BMI range, acceptance can't be far behind. Media messages, books on body diversity and organizations promoting fat acceptance are urging heavy people to accept their size and focus more on their health."

We've already received an array of letters from readers who responded to the article with irritation or support. Read the stories and feel free to post your own comments and experiences below.

-- Rosie Mestel

Photo: Maria Canul, 37,  is overweight, but has stopped dieting. "I took diet pills, I did all different kinds of things that were not really healthy," Canul said. "Technically, I'm fat, but it's not that unusual to be my size."

Credit: Dave Getzschman / For The Times