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'Subway guy' lays a heavy message on students

Jared Fogle, famous for losing weight with Subway, shares his story with middle schoolers.

Published November 6, 2005

WESTCHASE - If Jared Fogle's old pants could talk, they'd speak volumes.

Their 60-inch waist might tell of the years wasted sitting in front of televisions, sitting playing video games, sitting surfing the Internet and - of course - sitting down eating.

Fogle's giving the testimony, but the pants are still a powerful prop.

A thunderous "Daaaaaaang!!!" rang out from hundreds of Davidsen Middle School students Wednesday as Fogle unfolded the pants that fit snug when he weighed 425 pounds.

Now a slender 195, Fogle travels the country sharing the story of how he beat obesity.

After crediting Subway sandwiches and exercise for his loss of more than 200 pounds in about a year, Fogle, nationally and affectionately known as "Jared the Subway Guy," became the chain's spokesperson.

But Wednesday's appearance was about way more than sandwiches.

Fogle visited Davidsen as part of the Jared & Friends School Tour, an American Heart Association-sponsored program designed to teach children the benefits of healthy living.

Teaching middle school-aged students healthy habits now may prevent them from being obese adults. At least Dave Nelson, head of Davidsen Middle's physical education department, hopes so.

"If you walk through the cafeteria right now you'll see them all eating french fries and chicken fingers," Nelson said during lunchtime Wednesday.

Overweight children and adolescents have a 62 percent to 98 percent chance of being overweight at age 35, which increases their risk of heart disease according to the American Heart Association.

"We preach to them all the time," Nelson said, "but if they hear it from a celebrity maybe it'll stick."

The message seemed to get through to at least three students Wednesday.

Joseph Piazza, 12, and 13-year-olds Delia Huffman and Thomas Yoakum all knew Fogle from television commercials and couldn't believe he came to their school.

"I thought it was pretty cool how he lost all that weight," Joseph said.

"Yeah," said Delia, "I never thought he'd lose so much."

"It's definitely encouraged me to stay active," said Thomas, who enjoys skateboarding and jogging.

Fogle's hectic schedule sometimes keeps him from exercising as much as he'd like, he said. He's on the road 200 days out of the year. And although he doesn't eat Subway every single day any more, he refuses to revert to his old ways.

Fogle's fight with fat started when, as a third-grader, he forsook being physical for playing Nintendo. His obesity led to physical problems like back pain, sleep apnea and a condition called edema, a gathering of fluid due to poor circulation that made Fogle's ankles swell. And he couldn't fit into desks at high school or in college.

"I missed out on a large part of life ... because I was making bad decisions," Fogle told students.

Before putting his old tent-like trousers back into his weathered book bag at the end of the student assembly, Fogle added, "If you only remember one thing from this, think "I never, ever, ever want to wear anything close to those pair of pants.' "

The American Heart Association's 2005 Tampa Bay Heart Walk, a fundraiser for the association, is scheduled for Nov. 12 at the St. Pete Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, starting at 8 a.m. Call 727 570-8610 or e-mail for more information.

[Last modified November 5, 2005, 09:59:05]

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