Where Have You Gone, Robert Earl Hughes?


Californians are fatter than ever, says a new study. Americans overall are even fatter than that, says another new study citing a 24.5 percent increase in the national average rate of obesity. While fat detectives look for the root causes, the obvious solution to this problem is simply to define fatness upwards. But more interesting than what's happening in the center of the bell curve is what this may portend for the outliers.

Simply put: Are we getting within range of producing a one-ton person? The goal may be nearer than you think. According to this list of fattest people in history, the current chart-topper, Flint, MI's Carol Yager (1960—1994), broke the scale at a peak weight of 1600 lbs. That's a mere 400 lbs. shy of the brass ring. With a larger and more receptive operating environment, more calorie-rich foods, and some cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs, is it possible for a motivated fatso to become history's first Ton of Fun?

Of course, this is just the short ton. You'll recall Austin Powers' description of Fat Bastard—'"He weighs a metric tonne"—a figure that, at 2,204+ lbs., is still beyond our reach. Nor should we forget H.G. Wells' warning against using "weight" as a euphemism for "fat" in his classic story "The Truth About Pyecraft." (I'm also a little skeptical of the above estimate for Carol Yager.) But what is America if not the land where everybody can dream big?

The real, anagrammatic, meaning of Robert Earl Hughes' name here.