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New York - Kate Harding has spent most of her life on one diet or another, losing weight but always gaining it back.
Determined to improve her quality of life, she joined a fast-growing group of anti-dieting activists promoting overweight people's civil rights.
Launching an anti-dieting blog called "Shapely Prose", Harding and other pro-fat advocates online - calling themselves the fat-o-sphere - are also spreading information on how to improve overweight people's health.
She and other bloggers with names like FatChicksRule and Big Liberty say society's "war on obesity" makes overweight people hate their bodies and suffer from low self-esteem.
"Being fat doesn't make me lazy or stupid or morally suspect," said Harding, 34, of Chicago, who also has written a book, "Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere".
"The message we're promoting is health at every size."
Her blog entries criticise dieting obsessions and ponder coverage of weight issues in the mainstream media.
Harding, who says she is 1.60m metres tall and about 88kg, says her body image has improved. But she admits wearing a bathing suit in public "can still throw me for a bit of a loop."
Pro-fat advocates are starting to organise to promote anti-bias laws, encourage tolerance in healthcare and the workplace and help retailers recognise the profit potential of catering to plus-size customers.
"People are just beginning to think about being empowered," said Lynn McAfee, director of medical advocacy at the nonprofit Council on Size and Weight Discrimination.
"The emphasis has just been 'lose weight and everything will be fine', and it's becoming really clear that people aren't losing weight," she said. "So we want to shift the emphasis to making us as healthy as we can be at whatever weight we are."
Activists say the movement is beginning to amass some victories, from larger seat belts in cars to a decision by the Supreme Court in Canada that obese and disabled people travelling on airplanes can't be forced to buy a second seat.
The Fox television network is developing a reality show featuring "average looking" people called More to Love, billed as a "dating show for the rest of us".
The National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, a civil rights group formed in 1969, has found new life as fat-acceptance advocates gain force online.
There are now more than 50 pro-fat blogs and more than a dozen books promoting the idea, from Linda Bacon's Health at Every Size to Wendy Shanker's The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. There are even romance novels featuring plus-sized characters with names like Dangerous Curves Ahead.
But the dominant view remains that overweight people should focus on losing weight.
Some two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. Cities across the country have declared war on obesity, calling it a costly public health crisis that increases the risk of heart disease, type two diabetes and certain cancers.
Obesity-related healthcare costs more than $100-billion a year, research shows.
There are no US laws prohibiting weight discrimination, and only one state, Michigan, has an anti-weight bias law.
Weight discrimination is pervasive, said Rebecca Puhl, director of research at Yale University's Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity.
An "obesity wage penalty" - larger employees getting paid less regardless of job performance - is widespread, and research shows overweight people are less likely to land a job or be promoted, she said.
"We do need to fight obesity, but not obese people," said Puhl. "Individuals who are discriminated against because of their weight are more likely to engage in unhealthy eating behaviours and avoidance of physical activity."
Anecdotal evidence also suggests overweight people avoid trips to the doctor out of fear of being mocked. - Reuters