Shop Talk: Bellying Up

As noted in Takes this week, Americans these days are more accepting of overweight people than in the past. But will 2003 be the year when being chubby becomes downright hip?

Ever since 1998’s Million Pound March, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (“fat is not a four-letter word”) has made strides. And news last week that Homer Simpson has joined such thin, athletic folks as Allen Iverson in promoting Reebok sneakers (“Mmm … Classic,” he says in new print ads) is another promising development. Never mind that Homer once explained his exercise regimen this way: “I lift weights. Furniture mostly. It all depends what my doughnut has rolled under.”

If being fat is cool, then Houston remains the chilliest place in America. The Texas city is atop Men’s Fitness’ list of America’s Fattest Cities for the third straight year. Chicago, Detroit and Phil adelphia remain second, third and fourth, while St. Louis moves to No. 5, up from No. 9. Cleveland, Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., round out the top 10.

But being large won’t be that cool if everyone’s doing it. Americans are getting about 1 percent heavier each year, and if that trend continues, doctors say, everyone in the country will be overweight by 2035.