Reality in fat city

People in Huntington, WV bristle when their town is called America’s fattest and unhealthiest. They say it’s unfair and not true. Be that as it may, the CDC singled out the Huntington metro area for that dubious distinction and now a reality show with Jamie Oliver will try to turn things around.

Oliver is the British celebuchef, probably overexposed at home, who tackled Britain’s school lunches to make them healthier. Now he’s taping in Huntington for a show to be aired next year on ABC, and it’s re-opened the wounds of being called fat(test) city.

The show’s executive producer has stressed the program will not harp on negative stereotypes and Oliver himself spoke to residents last month at a big meeting at city hall to say his goal is not to attack anyone. Then Huntingtonites got wind of his comments back in Britain, in which he said people he’d met in Huntington lacked information about healthy eating and cooking from scratch. They weren’t happy.

State Delegate Don Perdue, who represents the area and acknowledges the local health issue, is uneasy about the image the show will project to the rest of America but says, “If it’s accurate and not positive, that’s our fault. If it’s inaccurate and negative, that’s their fault.”