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'Former Fat Guy' Andy Boyle On Why We're Getting Fatter And How To Stop It

April 17, 2020 Andy Boyle
Mandy Dempsey | Provided by the author

Sometime between his childhood and his late 20s, Andy Boyle got fat. In that, the Chicago-based journalist was far from unusual. An estimated 71% of Americans are overweight or obese. But after Boyle lost nearly one-third of his size, he began to explore the reasons he’d gained so much weight — the reasons, indeed, so many Americans have done so. And then he began to ask what we can do about it. 

The result? “Big Problems: A Former Fat Guy’s Look At Why We’re Getting Fatter and What You Can Do to Fix It.” It’s Boyle’s breezy, funny, yet oh-so-serious look at the forces that fatten us up and the societal changes that would give us fair fight against them.  

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Andy Boyle discussed what he’s learned in a journey that included everything from CoolSculpting procedures to visiting a bodybuilding competition.

Now the director of product engineering for the Chicago Sun-Times, Boyle also shared his thoughts on maintaining good habits even during a pandemic (or a Chicago winter). 

“What I’ve been trying to tell folks, number one: This isn’t normal, why would you expect your body or your weight to remain normal? This is extraordinary. Shoot for good enough, and not perfection. Nobody is going through COVID-19 perfectly,” he said. “But you can shoot for good enough. That can just be as simple as making a plan to go for a 20-minute walk every day. There, you’ve done something.

“And the other thing is, if you want to make changes, make a plan,” he added. “That plan can be relatively simple. It could just be, ‘I’m going to eat three meals today, and I’m going to focus on eating non-processed foods for most of them. And I’m not going to snack.”


St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.