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January 5, 2009

Quick quiz: The famous “Flying Doctor” service in New South Wales, Australia, which carries folks to medical help from remote areas, is getting larger airplanes because…

1. Their coverage area has grown

2. Bird flu is expected to take a huge toll

3. They need to fly to farther hospitals

4. People are getting too large to fit in the ones they’re using now

Yep, it’s that last thing. The planes now in use can only carry people weighing up to 308 pounds, but they’re getting new ones so they can handle jumbo patients up to 573 pounds. I am not making this up.

I don’t know about you, but if I lived in the outback and knew that my lifeline to medical help could only carry 308 pounds, then I’d put a fricking Magic Marker arrow on my bathroom scale, empty my deep fryer, and cancel my daily Cinnabons delivery.

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Above: An airplane mounted above the ground at a museum in Alice Springs, Australia. The retired plane had been used as an air ambulance for citizens of the outback.

Below: REUTERS file photos of sandwiches and doughnuts.

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Well, the over-sized patients could always walk part of the way to the distant hospitals, so they would loose part of the extra weight and save the state some money on fuel and airplanes! (I thought a little cynicism would go rather well with those Cinnabons!)

Posted by M | Report as abusive

It’s a sad state of the times isn’t it…I could understand the Flying Doctor Service having larger planes because of the population increase, although you would think that population increases in the outback areas would result in more local medical facilities anyhow, but people getting larger? It’s sad…I just got back to Florida from 2 weeks in England and it was strange to see how many people are now grossly overweight compared to a few years ago. Lack of exercise, being glued to large screen tv’s, computers and game consoles is partly to blame, but as well it’s the amount of processed food that people are eating.I used to think that I was fat in England, whereas over here in the USA I am a comfortable normal weight. It was somewhat comforting to see that in the UK too I am now not looking as overweight as I once was.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

I know this is usually the place for some levity, but you are so right, Robert. People need to start taking on some responsibility for their own actions in a lot of different ways and keeping their weight under 308 seems a good place to start.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

If I could weigh in on this, I don’t think we should be flying off the handle over the issue of corpulent cargo. It might be a little heavy-handed and, in the end, we should keep a broader perspective in order to be able to rise above it all…In the meantime, let’s applaud all the previous pilots who dutifully did their weight & balance calculations! 😉

Posted by Bandage | Report as abusive

Some sad news here. I learned today that a young man I knew professionally a couple of years ago and who was grossly obese has died. My heart and thoughts are with his parents.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

Now, I’m a fat bastard who would not fit on the old plane, but I gotta say that I don’t think the state should be required to accommodate persons of immense girth. Also, I’m curious – if you live in a remote area, HOW IN THE HECK ARE YOU GETTING THAT MUCH FOOD TO EAT?!

Posted by Joshua | Report as abusive

I’ve known a number of the morbidly obese young to simply drop dead, usually males. While it’s a tragedy whenever anyone’s span is prematurely truncated, it’s often a preventable problem.Unfortunately, the first heart attack symptom in 50+ percent of cases is that of irrevocably keeling over. So, the usual male approach to medicine of “wait and see” can be dramatically counterproductive.The good news for Outback megamorphs is that the Flying Doctor Service is heavily subsidized by the government and various corporations. Hence they’re not likely to be browbeaten into buying two tickets by a zealous Qantas agent.

Posted by gwmc | Report as abusive

Americans used to be the fattest in the world but the Australians have passed them. It must be all the meat pies, flavoured milk drinks and the Krispy Kremes. Everyone makes choices at tto what they eat. Some people just choose to eat junk food and disregard their bodies.

Posted by Adele | Report as abusive

Well they say people look like their pets….it is cattle country

Posted by MIck | Report as abusive

This is absolutely true. I am 6’2″ and weigh 205, and people in the U.S. tell me I am “skinny.” But, I admit, I am a workoutaholic.Five years ago I was preparing for a marathon and got down to 185, which my MD told me was a perfect weight for my bone structure. In training, I lost a lot of upper body muscle. My mother, my neighbor, my secretary, and just about anyone I knew told me that I looked like I was “terminally ill” or that I had “escaped from a concentration camp.”(When my secretary told me I was “skinny,” I told her that that was the “same thing as me telling you you’re fat.” She is no longer my secretary.)In the U.S., to have a healthy weight — to be fit — is to appear not only undernourished, but unhealthy.

Posted by Dr. Doll | Report as abusive

well… so much for the levity of the new year and this blog!!! Guys, get some sense of humour, please?!?!

Posted by M | Report as abusive