Three years ago - the same year that he was classified as morbidly obese - Arthur Miller IV's asthma was so bad he was hospitalized on life support for three days. Even last spring, the 292-pound New Orleans teen was so incapacitated that his family needed a handicapped-parking placard when driving him around.
At Compuware Corp. in Detroit, software developer Dean Politis, 39, struggled for years with severe obesity. He tipped the scales at nearly 400 pounds. Fortunately, his firm emphasizes physical fitness and healthy eating by providing a partially subsidized gym, nutrition and fitness classes.
A 65-year-old mechanical engineer from Boulder, CO, Kent Rieske shed more than 40 pounds after his doctor warned him about high blood pressure. "After doing some research, I went on a high-fat and high-protein [but low-carbohydrate] diet that really seemed to work for me. I know I look better these days after losing 40 pounds, and I certainly feel better."
Two years ago, Kyle Williams was a 16-year-old who stood 5 feet, 5 1/2 inches tall and weighed nearly 300 pounds. "People picked on me so much with fat jokes I became a quiet type," he says.
When Leigh Smith turned 60, his doctor warned that he was badly overweight at 268 pounds. High blood pressure and high cholesterol were likely to shorten his life.
Soon after paralegal Lynn Brown of Salisbury, Md., had her second child in the mid-1990s, she started putting on weight. Within 18 months, she recalls, "I was 50 pounds heavier than I should have been, and I was miserable."
After two decades of obesity, Peggy Dixon had had enough. "I'd had my stomach stapled and I’d tried acupuncture, but nothing had worked,"says Dixon, 56, of Anchorage, AK. "And then one morning in February of 2001, I woke up and just said to myself: 'You're gonna do something about your obesity!'"