June 10, 2002 -- The men of Large, Pa., are mostly, well … large.
In the small community just south of Pittsburgh where $9.95 buys a one-pound steak, it's tough for large men to get small. Jim Owens, a 57-year-old construction executive from Large has gained 80 pounds in the last five years, and can attest to the difficulties of dieting.
"The biggest challenge for me is I love food, and I love to cook," Owen told Good Morning America.
Men's Health magazine has partnered with GMA as it challenges America's overweight men to lose a million pounds in the next six months. (Go to www.mhmillion.com to sign up). The Good Morning America summer weight loss challenge is open not just to overweight men, but to the women who love them and anyone else who wants to join in.
To give the challenge a human face, we look first at the efforts of the men of Large, Pa. The mayor of Large, Mary Larcinese, says residents from all across the town, and even outside the area, are getting involved in a collective weight loss program.
Restaurants in Large have put low-fat items on the menu and the nutrition store chain GNC is offering discounts to Large residents who've joined the challenge.
Big Guts Are Risky
The weight issues that residents of Large face reflect a nation-wide problem. Nearly two-thirds of all Americans are overweight and at risk for a number of weight-related health problems.
Overweight individuals are 590 percent more likely to develop throat cancer, and 120 percent more likely to develop stomach cancer. Also, the chunky among us are 50 percent more likely to experience sexual dysfunction.
Jefferson County Sgt. William Potts of Large blames his extra 50 pounds on his job, where he sits behind the wheel all day, and ends up eating fast food for his meals. At home, his exercise is limited to the yard work.
"Most of my exercise is getting up from the TV to walk to the table, to walk back to the TV," Potts said. "I've got a remote, so I don't have to change the channels."
His wife of 14 years is not above poking some gentle fun about his gut, but also worries about the health risks associated with extra weight.
"I keep teasing him he's never delivered his baby," Potts said. "I'm very concerned for his health. I think he should be a lot trimmer."
Matters of the Heart
Scott Deutsch, a 37-year-old factory foreman, has very particular weight worries, since he is captain of the Large Volunteer Fire Department. In magazines aimed at firefighters, there are often stories about health-related firefighter fatalities.
"A lot of it is people in their 30s and 40s, in my range, and it's from heart attacks," Deutsch said. He is hoping to lose around 30 pounds — most of which has centered in his love handles, and the area around the front of his stomach.
The three men are determined to go from chunky to hunky as they set out on the weight loss challenge. They're doing it for their health, their looks and for the ones they love.
"My daughter's 21, going to school," Owens said. "I want to see her when she's 40. So simple."
Follow GMA's 3-part series, "Weight No More," this week.