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CNN Larry King Live
Interview With John Schneider
Aired July 12, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he's a legendary TV hunk, one of the "Dukes of Hazzard." He's touched hearts as a Christian singer and co- founder of the Children's Miracle Network.
And now, John Schneider finally goes public about a big secret from his past. He'll share the truth and some stunning pictures. That and a lot more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. As you may have noticed, if you were watching all day, John Schneider is our special guest tonight. He's the multi-talented performer, actor, singer, songwriter, played Bo on the TV series "Dukes of Hazzard," now playing Clark Kent's father on "Smallville," co-founder of the Children's Miracle Network along with our dear friend Marie Osmond. That was founded 20 years ago. The network's annual telethon has raised more than $1 billion for hospitals in the United States and Canada.
A lot of people have been asking me all day, what is Schneider's secret. People are worried.
JOHN SCHNEIDER, ENTERTAINER: Well, it's -- people have been calling me all day and it never occurred to me that I was going to get people very upset. But the truth is, Larry, had I continued a lifestyle that I had when I was up to 16 years old, there's every likelihood that I would be dead right now.
SCHNEIDER: Dead. Flatout dead.
SCHNEIDER: Because I had a habit that many people have today, many friends of mine have today, many friends who have passed away have had. And I think it's time that I try to help people get a grip on the problem of childhood obesity.
KING: You have never talked about this publicly?
SCHNEIDER: I have not talked about this with the exception of some fan mail that I got when "Dukes of Hazzard" first began. I was able to get involved in the lives of several youngsters and help them lose, collectively, hundreds of pounds. And I'm happy to say that they too are alive today because of my experience as a very overweight young man.
KING: But you've never discussed it on television or written about it?
SCHNEIDER: I've never talked about it on television, no.
KING: Your own family knows about it.
SCHNEIDER: My family knows certainly, those who have seen the pictures...
KING: Because there are close friends who don't. I spoke to people who have known you a long time who don't.
SCHNEIDER: We have one friend who knows it and that is it. And that's Joe Lake (ph) because, Joe, as you know, went through a terrible problem as well.
KING: Now, there's a picture. That's you at what age?
SCHNEIDER: That's me at, I think I was, believe it or not, eight years old. There's me at 14 years old.
KING: That's you on the left?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, me on the left. Me on the left, my mother, my brother, Mark, on the right-hand side, 14 years old.
KING: Oh, look at that.
SCHNEIDER: That's me, yes. That was maybe 12 years old.
KING: You were not going to be Bo.
SCHNEIDER: I was not going to be Bo. I was going to be someone. My mother had to make that little league uniform, bless her heart, because They did not have one that would fit a 220-pound 12-year-old.
KING: Were you a -- just a compulsive eater.
SCHNEIDER: Well -- there, look at that. That's why they called me "Gut."
KING: "Gut" was your nickname?
SCHNEIDER: "Gut" was my nickname. And I was picked on terribly by many, many kids.
KING: Where did you grow up, by the way.
SCHNEIDER: I grew up in Mount Kisco, New York, which is Westchester County, New York.
KING: Know it well.
SCHNEIDER: And I was not treated well as a child because of my weight. I was the one who would run in cross country with the inhaler.
KING: Is it true that in your mid-teens, you weighed about 245 pounds?
SCHNEIDER: I weighed 245 pounds when I was 16 years old. I had a 44-inch waist. And that was two years before "Dukes of Hazzard" started. Two years only. And the reason I said what I said earlier is I do believe that if I had not -- if the light had not been turned on by my brother one day, if I had continued to eat to the bottom of the box, that I would be dead today. There are many people who have died. This is not just an eating problem. This is a health issue.
KING: We're going to get into all that. This is psychological too.
SCHNEIDER: It's psychological as well.
KING: Were you an eater when you were at seven, eight? Would you like grab the Twinkies? What caused this?
SCHNEIDER: I was an eater -- I believe what caused this was I had a lot of time on my hands. My parents were divorced.
SCHNEIDER: They were divorced, no. They were divorced. My mother worked for IBM. So I had a lot of time at home practicing the guitar, eating some Twinkies. But I would eat everything. It's not just the bad food. I would eat five, six, seven hot dogs. I would eat the whole box of cookies. I would -- I'd pick on a cereal that is still to this day my favorite one. I would open a box of Captain Crunch and I was not happy until it was gone. But I ate everything that way, every single thing I ate.
KING: When you looked in the mirror, what did you think? And you're a teen. You didn't date any girls, did you?
SCHNEIDER: No, I didn't date girls, but I didn't have a self esteem problem with it.
SCHNEIDER: No. My mother had always told me that there was more of you to love, John.
KING: She didn't criticize you.
SCHNEIDER: She didn't criticize me because of it. But had I continued, I think, by the time I was 20 years old and maybe weighing close to 300 pounds, which is my estimate of what I would have weighed at 20, I believe it would have been too late for my mother to say, you know what, John, you really ought to pull back here.
KING: When you were in class, did you say, I'm a fat kid?
SCHNEIDER: I didn't have to because kids kidded me about being a fat kid.
KING: Well, "Gut" is an interesting nickname.
SCHNEIDER: "Gut" is an interesting nickname. I was the one that they would, you know, one would lean over behind me and the other would give me a push and I would land in the dog manure, poop pile.
KING: It seems like you had it rough. And that didn't help? That didn't cause you to go home and say...
SCHNEIDER: No, it didn't cause me to stop. What caused me to stop...
KING: What did?
SCHNEIDER: ... was my brother, God bless him, one day at Six Flags over Georgia...
KING: Older brother?
SCHNEIDER: Older brother, Bob. He said to me, as I was defending my second hot dog of the day...
KING: At 9:00 in the morning.
SCHNEIDER: Nine in the morning. He said, you know, you're really fat, John. You're fat. And I said, so look, everybody -- there's a lot of people around here. You know, there's not many Franco Columboes (ph) at Six Flags. So, everybody's fat. And he said, yes, but you tell me you want to be an actor. You tell me you want to be...
KING: Oh, you did want to be an actor.
SCHNEIDER: I started when I was eight years old. So, you tell me you want to be this person that's on television and the movies. How many fat people -- this is 1976 -- how many fat movie stars can you name? And I'd go hmmm. And he said, and let's face it, you already played all the Zero Mostel (ph) roles. In theater you can, because I had done, "A Funny Thing Happened on The Way To The Forum."
KING: So, you were cast as a fat kid?
SCHNEIDER: "Fiddler on the Roof," yes. So, once he attached it to my dreams and aspirations. That was the only time that did.
KING: No one had said that before?
SCHNEIDER: No one had said that before.
KING: You didn't get the part because you were overweight?
SCHNEIDER: I might have gotten "Fiddler on the Roof" because I could sing and because I was overweight. That could be. But the next year, they were going to do "Pajama Game," and the year after that...
KING: But what did you do about that need for the box of Captain Crunch? You still had the need.
SCHNEIDER: I still went to Pizza Hut, but they had a new thing called a salad bar. So, I started eating salads. I started eating protein because somewhere I had heard that a high-protein, low to no carbohydrate diet, keeping in mind I was 16 years old, you're fairly bulletproof at 16 years old with regard to diet.
I started that diet and two months later, I had lost 50 pounds. I think you have a picture here, if not now, there certainly is one that I sent, that was only two months after one of the other pictures you saw. And that's it. That's it. I look at that. I cannot believe it.
KING: Did you exercise, too?
SCHNEIDER: I exercised. There was a place called Nautilus which, at that point, was only for sports medicine, rehabilitation. And they had just opened one up in Atlanta, Georgia. That was two months. How many salads later, I don't know, and a lot of working out at the gym. But I managed to -- that same diet has managed to keep me in shape for everything I've done from the "Dukes of Hazzard" to "Smallville," all the way down the line.
KING: But when we come back, I want to ask you, what was the key to -- what most people say, I see the salad bar, but I want the pizza. We'll come right back -- I'll come right back with John Schneider, lots to go and some guests coming later as well as John Schneider reveals that he may have been dead, that's how much overweight he was and the way he did eat.
Here's a scene of John Schneider in slimmer days in "Dukes of Hazzard." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DUKES OF HAZZARD")
SCHNEIDER: Listen, you're going to have to give me a whole lot more reason than that before I let you drive the general. Where are we going? Excuse me, general. Take off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DUKES OF HAZZARD")
SCHNEIDER: We sure got ourselves in a heap of trouble this time, cousin.
TOM WOPAT, ACTOR: You got that right. Boss gonna throw the book at us, not to mention the federal government.
SCHNEIDER: We break our probation, we sure do a bang up job of it, don't we?
WOPAT: We ought to be out of prison about time to collect Social Security. SCHNEIDER: That ain't funny, Luke. We got to get ourselves out of this.
WOPAT: Yeah, well, while we're figuring out how, you just keep hauling until we can find a safe place to stash this stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with John Schneider, that scene of course from "DUKES OF HAZARD," a part he never would have gotten based on the pictures we saw earlier. I'm told there's an interesting story of how you got the money to join a gym.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, well there is. It's odd how things work. One day my brother told me about being fat and having no opportunity to be a movie star at that point. Next day we were bowling, and underneath -- I can remember it like it was yesterday -- underneath an Evel Knievel pinball machine, I dropped a quarter, reached down, and found a bill all wadded up.
Opened it up. It was a hundred dollar bill. I said to my brother, "Should I turn this in?" He said, "What, are you nuts?" He said, "the guy's going to keep it. You keep it or I will."
I took the $100 bill and I went across the street from the bowling alley and joined the Nautilus, where you saw that picture taken in front of. They had an introductory offer, three years for -- guess what -- $100. I joined that gym and my life changed. "Dukes Of Hazzard" happened before my membership ran up at that gym.
KING: Do you still go to gyms? Do you still work out?
SCHNEIDER: I work out at home. I work out on the road. I have a wonderful friend that's you're actually going to meet later that's developed this great thing where you can work out at any hotel room you're in. Because I do have to keep it up. You have to change your lifestyle.
KING: Do you think there's a little fat boy still in there?
SCHNEIDER: There is, definitely. I fluctuate about 15 to 20 pounds now.
SCHNEIDER: "Smallville" starts in another couple of weeks, so I've lost in the last -- in the last three weeks, I've lost my 10 pounds. I bounce around. My wife and I go on a cruise every year. We took the kids and the grandparents...
KING: Don't you get afraid once you go on a cruise and you start eating, like, cruise food, you're going to not be able to stop?
SCHNEIDER: If I wasn't going to -- if I didn't have a job at the end of it, I think that could very well be.
KING: Your structure is work?
SCHNEIDER: My structure is work, but the psychological -- the psychological part that you were alluding to earlier, knowing that someone is going to see me on TV and knowing that I don't want to be the, "What happened to John Schneider? My gosh, look at him."
That keeps me in line. You do have to have something to keep you in line. And I can't stress this enough -- if you have a friend who is overweight, tell them. Say, listen, Bob, listen, whoever you are, you are overweight and it is very unhealthy.
KING: You are doing them a favor?
SCHNEIDER: You are doing them no favors by saying...
KING: You look good.
SCHNEIDER: ...go ahead. You look good. You know, there's people -- I've seen people heavier than you. You're not doing them a favor.
KING: Did you ever get too skinny?
SCHNEIDER: I did get too skinny. The other side of being overweight, once you've lost the weight. I got -- I'm almost 6'4" and my lightest, after my heaviest, was 175 pounds, and...
KING: Did people say then, you look a little too drawn?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it seems like people are more likely to tell you you've gotten too thin than to tell you you've gotten too fat. And my wife is wonderful at that. I believe the lovely, endearing term is "pencilneck" that she does tell me, because I do have a tendency to overdo it in that regard.
KING: Food is part of social interaction to you, right?
SCHNEIDER: Food is -- when I do go on a diet to get ready for a film, I do miss the social interaction. I do miss -- I miss the oral sensation of Captain Crunch. I think popcorn is the only thing that I will -- I went and saw a movie today and ate the whole thing.
KING: ...low fat popcorn.
SCHNEIDER: No, I just eat the popcorn. I just eat the whole thing.
No, no butter. I just never liked that. If it's not real butter, I'm not interested.
KING: OK, what about the pressure of the business you're in to look good? I mean, you can't get fat. Well, you can but... SCHNEIDER: Well, a lot of people -- tell that to John Travolta. He did an amazing thing. He said, you know what? I like to eat and I like the way I look. And -- but once you cross a certain point, I think you get unhealthy.
My own -- because inside here is a fat kid that was picked on mercilessly by his nonfriends or his peers in Mt. Kisco, New York, I believe that's what will not allow John the adult to get fat again. There, look -- I mean, I'm well on my way...
KING: Yes, a little fatty boy there.
SCHNEIDER: ...to being someone who needs their stomach stapled down the road.
KING: Why hadn't you talked about this before?
SCHNEIDER: Well, because I...
KING: I mean, you could help -- obviously you were helping people that knew about it closely. The family...
SCHNEIDER: Well, now there's more problem with childhood obesity now, I think, than ever before. The people are eating, I believe, way upside down.
KING: Well, the McDonald's and the Burger King...
SCHNEIDER: The McDonald's -- fast food has enabled people to get unhealthier quicker than ever before.
KING: French fry fad, right?
SCHNEIDER: French fries are -- I mean, it's terrible. There's a vegetable that you can eat that has 5,000 calories, and it's that, unfortunately wonderfully incredibly good tasting blooming onion that you get, that's that deep-fried onion.
Things that will kill you generally taste or feel pretty good. And this is -- the reason why I'm coming out of the fat closet here is because I know that there are children out there right now who are being told, "It's OK." Well, guess what? It's not. John Candy was a delightful human being, and John Candy passed away, years ago now, because he was grossly overweight.
KING: Did your faith -- and I know you're a very strong believer -- help you?
SCHNEIDER: It helps me now, because I do believe that the first thing that you are given by God is your body. And the body is a temple. It does not belong to you. So if you abuse your body in any way, and overeating is a substance abuse. It is something that you are damaging your body with. I believe you have an obligation to take care of that problem. And also for your children.
I play a father on television... KING: Superman.
SCHNEIDER: ...and I hope that there's some who agree that "Smallville" is one of the -- it exhibits parenting in a way that other shows have not done. Dad is not an idiot on "Smallville." So I'm -- now I'm talking to the parents out there. If you have overweight children, please help them not be overweight.
KING: Do we know if there are more overweight boys than girls, or vice versa?
SCHNEIDER: I don't know. Now we are -- later Doug is going to come out here and I believe that Doug can answer that question. Speaking from my personal experience, it seems to me like there are more overweight boys. But he can certainly speak to that question. You've never had a problem with being...
KING: No, I did. I was once, I would say, 20 pounds over.
SCHNEIDER: Twenty pounds overweight.
KING: But I had a heart attack.
KING: And then heart surgery, and that taught me to stop eating some of the stuff I was eating.
SCHNEIDER: OK, there is a wake-up call. It's better if that wake-up call comes sooner.
KING: You get a lucky break. That was a lucky heart attack.
SCHNEIDER: That was a lucky heart attack, yes.
KING: It didn't kill me, and I learned something from it. Ordinary people have a tough time, though, with this.
KING: Maybe it's the hardest thing in the world. Look at all the diet books.
SCHNEIDER: Oh, absolutely. And this -- the thing that I've used for so long, has been the protein, low carbohydrate.
KING: But obese children, that's a different story. We'll come right up with this -- children are so prone to -- give me the french fries, and it's easy to pass it to them.
SCHNEIDER: It's easy for them to say "I don't like anything else."
You have to say, "Well, then you don't eat."
KING: But, you've got to eat, Mikey. SCHNEIDER: Right.
KING: We'll be right back. Here's another scene of John Schneider in "The Dukes of Hazzard."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DUKES OF HAZZARD")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bo, hit that nitrous oxide.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was pretty fancy flying, Bo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SMALLVILLE")
SCHNEIDER: Your real parents weren't exactly from around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are they from? What are you trying to tell me, dad? That I'm from another planet? Suppose you stashed my spaceship in the attic?
SCHNEIDER: Actually, it's in the storm cellar.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's from "Smallville," of course, in which John Schneider, in that Warner Brothers hit, plays the father of Superman.
And that kid got married?
SCHNEIDER: That kid got married. Tom Welling and Jamie got married. The Wellings now exist, and God bless you both; I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful future together. I'm sure you will. Good young people.
KING: Let's take a call for John. Fresno, hello?
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hi, John.
SCHNEIDER: Well, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I just wanted to say kudos to John for bringing that out, for bringing the childhood obesity out. As a dietitian, I see many overweight children in my practice. But just the question that I have for you is what is your opinion of the fast food, the junk food, the lack of -- excuse me, the lack of exercise?
SCHNEIDER: Well, it's terrible. It's a terrible combination. If you're going to ingest that kind of -- this tremendous amount of calories that the junk food, as you call it, has...
KING: But they play to the kids. SCHNEIDER: Well, they play to the kids. I mean, it's easy; it's convenient. But what price convenience? Going to the gym, let's face it, is not convenient. We have many, many people who will ride the escalator to go up and use the stairmaster. What's that about? But you can't -- you can't continue to ingest that kind of food and sit down and listen to your music, as many kids do today, as I did as a child too, but sitting around and eating that kind of food is really, I think, a recipe for disaster.
So please, help those kids stop it.
KING: And kids set the mold for their future.
SCHNEIDER: Well, and the parents -- yes -- but parents are the ones that are buying the children the food. Parents have got to allow...
KING: Do you buy your kids Captain Crunch?
KING: You don't? So...
SCHNEIDER: Chasen (ph) -- we have -- Chasen will eat one day -- we have daddy doughnut day. And Chasen, my son, is the only one that likes the Captain Crunch because he wants to be like daddy, and I think that's neat. And once a week, he can have Captain Crunch as a snack, out of a bag. Once a week. Moderation.
KING: Biloxi, Mississippi, hello.
CALLER: Hi, John.
CALLER: Hi, this is -- my name is Sandy. We met in your concert down here in 1986.
SCHNEIDER: Oh, my.
KING: John sings great. Go ahead.
CALLER: John, I don't think you're really judgmental about people, but you should, you know, just see that what's inside of a person is more important than outside, don't you agree?
SCHNEIDER: Oh, absolutely I agree that what's inside is far more important than what's outside. But when you're talking about this particular problem, it truly is an ailment that can and probably will kill you. I mean, it would be hard to argue that being 100 pounds overweight and a good person is a healthy thing. Larry and I both have had several friends who are -- have been tremendously overweight and who have done something about it. And they are still just as good a person as they were, but they're a far healthier person now.
KING: The teasing in childhood is bad or good? When the friends tease the fat kid?
SCHNEIDER: Well, these people that teased me were nasty, nasty kids.
KING: They leave a bad scar.
SCHNEIDER: They leave a bad mark and they really didn't really help. It wasn't until someone that I cared about, who obviously cared about me, said something. When your peers who you don't respect push you over into the dog pile or when they take your jacket and tear it, whatever they do to you, whatever, they, you know, they beat you up after school -- and that was the kid I was -- nothing that they could do would do anything except make me want to ear more. But when my brother said, this is a problem that you have to deal with, then I did.
KING: Do you know why you had the problem?
SCHNEIDER: I really don't. I still, to this day, love to eat. I just have to watch it. I don't know that I could trace it back to any huge thing that happened in my life, although I did have quite a bit of time at home, as many kids do today. We didn't have video games. You know, Pong wasn't around yet.
KING: You had a working mother.
SCHNEIDER: I had a working mother. She worked for IBM. My dad lived in another town -- not very far away, but another town. So food was -- I guess food was my friend. But so was the guitar. You know, obesity came out of my lifestyle, but so did magic, so did singing. You know, many, many good things came out of it.
My point is that somewhere along the line I did something about the problem habit I had. And it's better to do that before the heart attack -- you know, before the wake-up call, than after.
KING: Are you going to go around speak at schools and the like? Start a campaign?
SCHNEIDER: Well, a friend of mine is actually doing a 25 of the fattest cities tour, who happens to believe...
KING: Fattest cities?
SCHNEIDER: Fattest cities, yes. He's going to go talk to people about the diets, talk to people about the right way to eat. Talk to people with pictures of mine about how to change their lives.
KING: Columbus, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: This is for you and John. I lost 45 pounds a year ago and I managed to keep it off. SCHNEIDER: Good for you. It's hard to keep it off.
CALLER: It is.
KING: What's the question?
CALLER: You know, they banned alcohol on TV, alcohol commercials, liquor commercials. My question is, does fast food is just -- I mean, you've got Burger King, you have...
KING: The liquor is not really banned. Cigarette smoking is banned. You can take a liquor ad; it's just most stations voluntarily choose not to, but you can take a liquor ad. It would be very hard on the First Amendment to block.
SCHNEIDER: It would be hard on the First Amendment, and it would be very difficult...
KING: And hard on the television networks.
SCHNEIDER: It would be hard on television. It would be harder than TiVo.
KING: You're not kidding.
KING: By the way, what did you make of this airline people requiring -- airline companies requiring overweight people to buy two seats?
SCHNEIDER: That's a tough one. I think that they've really crossed the line there. I've had friends who've had to use the extra seat belt because a regular seat belt won't go around them. They already did make -- they have something there in case. But there are those who cannot possibly fit in a coach seat.
KING: You have to lift up the handle.
SCHNEIDER: So they had to buy first class seats, or they had to buy two.
KING: We're going to show you two people now...
SCHNEIDER: Oh, let's see that.
KING: ... who did just that. Look at that lady and that man.
SCHNEIDER: Well, are they going to make pregnant women buy two seats? I mean, where are you going to draw the line there? I don't know. It's -- I think that they're pretty bold in so doing. You know, they have an inventory problem, they have so many seats to sell, and they are trying to make sure that the public takes care of their problem. It's not our problem.
KING: Speaking of morbidly overweight, as those people obviously were, when we come back, we're going to be joined in Indianapolis by Jared Fogle, who was kind of morbidly obese. He lost weight on a self-created diet. Look at him. You all remember him from the Subway ad. You'll see that ad, and we'll talk with Jared. Look at him. Look at him now.
SCHNEIDER: My goodness.
KING: We'll be right back with John Schneider and Jared Fogle right after this.
KING: John Schneider, the multi-talented performer, actor, singer/songwriter, and former, as he calls it himself, fat kid, coming out of the fat closet tonight. We're now joined in Indianapolis by Jared Fogle. There you see. Look at slim Jared.
SCHNEIDER: Hello, Jared.
JARED FOGLE, LOST 245 LBS: Hello, how are you doing?
KING: Jared Fogle lost 245 pounds eating Subway sandwiches.
SCHNEIDER: My gosh!
KING: We'll always remember this commercial. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SUBWAY COMMERCIAL)
NARRATOR: This is Jared. He weighed 425 pounds. Inspired by Subway's low fat sandwiches, he invented a diet of his own, one he called the Subway diet. At the heart of his diet was Subway's turkey breast sub, a foot-long veggie and a lot of walking. Today, Jared weighs 190 pounds. We're not saying his diet is right for you. You should talk to your doctor first. But it is food for thought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jared, were you a fat kid?
FOGLE: I was a very fat kid. Probably starting third or fourth grade, is when my weight started to come on. And slowly, steadily built. And the thing, the more freedom I had from my parents, the more I chose to eat. The more that I could eat, you know, hiding it from them. And it just got to the point where I was totally out of control.
KING: So you can associate with what John Schneider grew up with too?
FOGLE: Absolutely. Very much so.
KING: You want to show us -- do you still have the pants?
FOGLE: Of course. Can't go anywhere without them these days. This is what I used to wear. KING: What was the waist?
FOGLE: Sixty inch. Sixty inches. And now I'm down to 34, and I've had it off for about three and a half years.
KING: And you got the idea in a Subway sandwich store?
FOGLE: I did. I was a college student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. And like a lot of people, I was trying to find a way to lose weight. You know, none of the traditional diet methods were working for me. And I happened to live next door to a Subway restaurant when I was a junior in school. And literally, just happened to be in there one day and took a look at their low fat menu, that they call, you know, the "seven under six" menu, and just said, you know, if I were to eat this six-inch turkey sandwich for lunch and a foot-long veggie for dinner, but hold the mayonnaise, hold the cheese, hold the oil, of course, eat the baked chips rather than the fried chips and start to drink diet soda, maybe this is one of those crazy things that could work for me. And sure enough, it did.
KING: And he was able to take bread, right?
SCHNEIDER: He was able to take bread. I did not. I did not take bread. But I could call mine the Pizza Hut diet, because that's where the salad bar was. You know, because I didn't want to give up the socialization of being with my friends.
KING: Jared, how did Subway find out about you?
FOGLE: It was funny. Actually, a buddy of mine, Ronnie Coleman (ph), he is out in Los Angeles now, he was the editor for the campus newspaper for IU. And he bumped into me one day and honestly didn't recognize me, as most people didn't anymore, and just couldn't believe it. And he said, I've got to write a story about what you've done. And back in April of '99, he wrote the very first article and did a full interview and pictures and everything. And that article actually got picked up by some other newspapers and magazines around the country. And "Men's Health" magazine did a story. And before I knew it, I got a call from Subway shortly after that, and a commercial idea was born.
KING: What do you do for a living?
FOGLE: Pretty much now, I go all over the world with Subway, sharing. It's a heck of a thing. You know, I graduated from school back in May of 2000, and now I essentially travel the world and just share my story and, you know, talk to people about it and talk to the media and share just how I did it.
KING: I asked John, he said yes. Is there still a little fat boy in you?
FOGLE: Absolutely there is. And it's something that I can stay on top of. And you know, you get to the point where you don't want to over-obsess about it, but you've got to make sure you stay on top of it, too. And you know, I still eat Subway a couple of times a week. I don't necessarily eat it every single day anymore. But just like John said, a lot of it is moderation. And you know, I started to keep up my walking program as well. I'm not big into going to the gym or anything, but for me, walking seems to do the trick.
KING: Will you, as John does -- John can go up 20 pounds and come down. Have you had that?
FOGLE: Yeah. I bounce around. I usually give it about a 10- pound maximum. I try to do five pounds, to be honest. And my weakness -- I know John said about the cruises, that's one of mine. But just the holidays in general I think is when I tend to put most of mine on, but then, you know, really I try to stay on top of it and nip it in the bud, as Barney Fife used to say.
SCHNEIDER: My wife is always there to tell me when I've gone too far in either direction. And I thank her for it, because you really don't know, Larry. You do see, always, whether I'm 210 or whether I'm 190, I never see myself as any different than I was when I was 16 years old.
KING: And what do you do when the urge occurs? Don't you get scared, Jared, when you go up instead of five, you go up eight pounds?
FOGLE: Yeah, you do. You know, it's one of the things that honestly, I'll go back on the Subway diet, so to speak, and I'll start eating Subway twice a day for a few days, and that seems to do the trick. But you know, I really try to stay moderately. I really try not to let myself get more than a few pounds out, and I really just start to jump on it and say, you know, enough is enough. I've worked way too hard to put the weight back on.
KING: Do you believe it's an addiction?
FOGLE: I believe it is. I know I was addicted. I was addicted to the burgers and the French fries and the pizza and the fried chicken and all those other things out there. You know, the upsizing. And you know, I was one of those people that could never pass up a full plate of food. You know, I couldn't eat three-fourths of the plate and push it away. I had to eat the entire amount, and that was the real problem.
SCHNEIDER: Your meal isn't the only thing that gets supersized on that sort of a lifestyle.
KING: Jared, what did you think, at the height of your maximum weight, what did you think when you looked in the mirror?
FOGLE: You know, I didn't look in the mirror much, to be honest. It was one of those things that I knew I was the big guy. I just didn't realize I was that big of a guy, and you know, when I finally -- the sort of the straw the broke the camel's back for me was getting on the scale, seeing that I weighed 425 pounds, and pretty much saying, you know, I'm junior in school here, enough is enough. I'm not going to be able to get a job; I'm not going to be able to sit in the interview seat.
KING: There is no doubt, John, he would have died.
SCHNEIDER: I believe there is no doubt that he would have died.
KING: You can't go on that kind of weight pattern.
SCHNEIDER: Right. How old are you, Jared?
FOGLE: I'm 24, almost 25 now.
SCHNEIDER: Twenty-four years old. Yes. Thank God you woke up and smelled the coffee.
SCHNEIDER: Because you would -- I believe, personally, that you would not be around.
FOGLE: Oh, I'm sure.
SCHNEIDER: Perhaps not even today if you continued.
FOGLE: Well, it's funny, my father's a family physician. He's a doctor in Indianapolis. And I definitely -- I grew up knowing what I should be eating, what I shouldn't be eating. I always chose to eat the wrong thing anyway.
KING: And he didn't stop you?
FOGLE: Well, what are you going to do? You can't chain me to the wall. You know what I mean? I had to make my own decisions. I mean, I was -- I knew -- he was always on me. He'd get on my back about things, obviously. He very much cared about me, but I always chose to eat the wrong thing.
KING: I've got to get a break. You're married now, right?
FOGLE: I am married now, yes.
FOGLE: Thank you.
KING: When we come back, John Schneider and Jared Fogle will remain with us. There's the married Fogles. And we'll be joined by the famed Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Douglas Markham and get their impact. Right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SUBWAY COMMERCIAL)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Jared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look good.
FOGLE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have you got there?
FOGLE: It's a Subway sweet onion chicken teriyaki.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I haven't heard of that one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you, off the diet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's Jared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look, Jared's off the diet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jared, you're my hero.
FOGLE: I'm not off the diet. It's a new low fat taste from Subway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Still with us here in Los Angeles is John Schneider, out of the early fat closet tonight.
And in Indianapolis is Jared Fogle, once morbidly obese. Lost weight on the self-created diet through the Subway plan.
Joining us now in San Francisco is Dr. Dean Ornish, the "New York Times" best-selling author. "Time Magazine" described him as one of the most respected of the low-fat, heart-healthy gurus.
His new book, "Eat More, Weigh Less," is out now in paperback. And here in Los Angeles, Mr. Douglas Markham. Dr. Markham is a chiropractor and author of "Total Health: Beyond the Zone." There you see that book. "How to unlock you body's natural ability to burn fat, stay healthy, and boost your energy."
He's embarking on a tour of America's 25 fattest cities, and he's founder of totalhealth.com. -- totalhealth--dot--dot--com, an online weight loss and wellness management program. Now, John, you hooked up with Dr. Markham.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, I did. I hooked up...
KING: Do you go to a chiropractor?
SCHNEIDER: I go to a chiropractor at the insistence of my wife. I've had a problem in my elbow for a number of years, and she said, "You've gotta go to Dr. Doug, because this guy has simple solutions to big problems." I went and within about a week, this thing that had hurt me for years went away.
KING: What did that have to do with weight?
SCHNEIDER: Well, we got to talking about my past and how that I had lost all this weight. And he said, well, that's funny, I'm just in the process of writing this book, because I couldn't agree with you more.
KING: Dr. Markham, are chiropractors normally interested in subjects like weight?
DOUGLAS MARKHAM, CHIROPRACTOR: Yes, Larry, actually we are. It's interesting. We have quite a background in diet and nutrition, because we go for more of a holistic approach, and so we actually have more background in that than a standard medical doctor. And that's not their fault, either.
KING: They don't get a lot of...
MARKHAM: No, they're dealing with different conditions coming in and knowing what kind of medications to give to them.
KING: And what is this -- how do you pick America's 25 fattest cities?
MARKHAM: That's a great question. Actually a magazine article came out in "Men's Fitness" magazine...
KING: And they picked it?
MARKHAM: Yes, they outlined the 25 fattest cities, and I looked over to my wife after I read the article, and I said, "Honey, that's something I need to do. I need to go to those cities."
KING: Dr. Ornish, you're an MD, right?
DR. DEAN ORNISH, AUTHOR, "EAT MORE, WEIGH LESS": I am, yes.
KING: And your specialty is what?
ORNISH: My specialty is in internal medicine, but as you know, we've been doing research for the last 25 years showing that you can actually reverse heart disease and now perhaps prostate cancer, early prostate cancer, by making big changes in diet and lifestyle.
KING: All right. Now we started this program with John telling us about fat children. Are you concerned? Are there too many children, and I mean kids 9, 10, 11, who are way over weight?
ORNISH: I am concerned, because I have a little boy of my own, Lucas. Let me say hello to Lucas. And, you know, diabetes has risen 70 percent in the last 10 years in children. So it's a big problem in every sense of the word. But there's no mystery as to why people are gaining weight. You can lose weight in one of two ways. Either you eat fewer calories or you burn more calories. You can burn more calories by exercise, and you can eat fewer calories by either eating less food or by eating foods that are less dense in calories.
In other words, when you eat less fat, you eat fewer calories without having to eat less food. What ties all this stuff together, and what I like about what John's been saying, is it's not just how you lose weight but how do you lose weight in a way that actually enhances your health.
And there's an element of truth to the high protein diets, because people eat too many simple carbohydrates. That's the other reason people get too many calories, is they eat too much sugar and white flour and white rice. These get absorbed quickly. They make your blood sugar zoom up. They make your body make insulin, which accelerates the conversion of calories into fat. But if you eat whole wheat brawn rice, fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, in their natural forms, you get full before you get too many calories
...and you lose weight.
KING: Do you study the psychology of why did John overeat? Why did Jared overeat?
ORNISH: Well, you know, that's a good question. That's a really good question, and that's part of what I write about in my books. It's not just what you do, but why. And so many people in this country are lonely, depressed, isolated, and they often use food to fill the void.
Or they use alcohol or they smoked as a way of dealing with that, as a way of managing stress, and so...
SCHNEIDER: Well, certainly also, doc -- I'm agreeing with you. Forgive me for interrupting. But the marketing strategy of these companies is all about how you can be a better person if you eat their product, if you buy their product. That's what marketing is about.
And you buy into that as a parent or as a child, how to eat these things that are bad for you.
KING: Jared, how do you fight that?
FOGLE: I don't know. It's awfully tough. You just have to make the correct decisions and just eat moderately, I think. I don't know. It's a tough call.
KING: Dr. Markham, aren't you a Don Quixote? I mean, the windmill is going the other way.
MARKHAM: That's right. Well, Larry, I take it back to my Midwestern roots. I grew up in a small town in southern Wisconsin. And we don't fatten the pigs and cows with fat. We fatten them with low-fat grain. And unfortunately, the real culprit here, obviously, John talked about one of them, is a lack of exercise. But also, it's the high carbohydrate content of the American diet.
I liked what Dr. Ornish said in regard to the fact that we do need quality proteins, but we really need to watch the amount of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, things that are very starchy, things that are made with flour and water, things that convert into sugar very rapidly.
SCHNEIDER: I certainly do. It's a big problem for me.
MARKHAM: Yes, and this is where John and I had a common interest and actually belief system, and it is the fact that we really do need to get more quality protein.
SCHNEIDER: I've heard many, many times that you can eat these other things in moderation. But I can't. It does not seem to work for me.
KING: One slice of bread is two.
MARKHAM: Yes, exactly.
SCHNEIDER: Well, for me it's a bad thing. I have to do high protein, low carbohydrates.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll come right back, include some more phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: Girard, Kansas, hello?
CALLER: Yeah, I'd like to say hello to John and say I've been a big fan of his for a long time. And now my kids are watching "The Dukes of Hazzard" now. And my question is, a lot of schools nowadays have cut out physical education altogether, and a lot of their venues aren't good, you know, good for the kids. So what can a parent do?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that is a wonderful question. Since -- in the insanity of public schools, they have cut out physical education, you have to supplement your children with physical education at home. You have to go to the batting cage. You have to flow the frisbee. You have to do anything.
KING: Doesn't make sense, does it?
SCHNEIDER: It makes no sense.
KING: Dr. Ornish, isn't that weird?
ORNISH: Well, it's unfortunate, because physical education, as John's saying, is so important to our kids. And I just want to, again, thank John for coming out and talking about this, because giving voice to these problems with eating really makes it a lot easier for other people to do it.
KING: I'm glad he did too. By the way, you have a Web site, don't you, doctor?
ORNISH: Yeah, it's Ornish.com. It's part of WebMD, and it has a lot of recipes and low fat things. And I also wanted to say one more thing, which is that the goal is not to go -- I think we all agree that people eat too many simple carbohydrates, like sugar and white flour. But the goal is not to go to port rinds and bacon and sausage, like some people would say, but to whole foods, you know, fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. And then you're getting these disease- protective substances as well as avoiding the things that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Does everybody agree with it? Do you agree with that?
MARKHAM: Yes, I do.
KING: Do you agree with it too, Jared?
FOGLE: You know, I -- for me, personally, I thought by me lowering my calories and lowering my fat was the big deal for me. I need bread. I love bread. And when I eat the Subway sandwiches, you know, I would supplement it with fruit and obviously what not, but that worked for me, and it has been working for a lot of other people.
KING: And you can go up and down, right?
SCHNEIDER: Well, I go up and down. I go from down...
KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Wonderful program. I'd like to ask the guests, the panel, how much exercise do you need? And how do you inspire someone to exercise who says they don't want to do it? How do you fire them up to exercise?
SCHNEIDER: Well, exercise -- I'm sorry, go right ahead.
MARKHAM: Well, actually, exercise is a very important component. and a lot of times, depending on how overweight you are. Sometimes when people are 100 pounds overweight, like one patient that I had -- he lost 65 pounds even without exercise, prior to exercising.
KING: John did a lot of it.
MARKHAM: Yes, he did...
SCHNEIDER: It's important that you do both, I believe, for me, anyway. It was important that I did both at the same time, because the exercise process actually accelerates the weight loss process, once you get on a diet that's proper for you.
MARKHAM: And for some people, that's the thing. Depending on what -- you lose some of the weight first, then you feel more like exercise. Then exercise is a very important component.
SCHNEIDER: When you start to see a change in yourself, you are motivated to continue.
ORNISH: Well, I was going to say that, you know, a fear of dying I found is not a very good motivator. And telling somebody they're going to die if they don't lose weight or start exercising or change their diet doesn't really work very well in the long run.
KING: What would be...
ORNISH: The joy of living is. And when you make these changes, when you lose weight, when you feel better, the feeling better is what really makes a difference. Your brain gets more blood, so you think more clearly. Your heart gets more blood flow in ways we've measured. Even your sexual function improves in the same way that Viagra works. And so those are the things that really make it more sustainable.
SCHNEIDER: But as you become a parent, and I've got three children, and the thought of being an obese parent would scare me. Because then, all of a sudden, I would be in touch with my own mortality...
SCHNEIDER: And then, now, conversely, think about being a parent with obese children. I can think of nothing worse than the thought of outliving your children.
MARKHAM: Exactly. And Larry, in fact, you brought it up well last week. I watched you with your Rosie O'Donnell interview. I thought it was great. You asked her about her weight, and she said, it really wasn't a vanity issue, it was more about being healthy, because she has two young children and she wants to be around for them. And it is. It's about your absolutely right to be healthy and happy, and unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation, and we just need to get...
SCHNEIDER: I'll bet your first thought when your heart attack was happening was your kids.
ORNISH: By the way, a third of vegetables that kids are eating are either French fries or potato chips. So there's a lot of room for improvement.
KING: Fort Myers, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I just wanted to ask Mr. Schneider, what types of meat and what types of vegetables, in particular -- you didn't name which kind you use. Because you very much inspired me, and I thank you.
SCHNEIDER: Well, I eat -- in the most simple form, I would eat red meat. When I get ready to do a movie, I'll meat, I'll eat chicken, I'll eat fish. The simplest form is, it takes carbohydrate to digest protein. If you don't ingest carbohydrate, you'll use up your stored carbohydrates to digest the protein that you're ingesting. And the only place it can go for me to digest the protein is right here around the middle, where I can carry those 15 pounds just like that.
So eat the best meat that you can, be it beef, chicken, fish.
KING: And you might say no to that, right?
MARKHAM: No, actually, I'm in agreement with John.
KING: Dean would say no, right?
ORNISH: I would say no to that, yes.
MARKHAM: And see, Larry, the whole thing -- it is -- it's the common sense thing. And the whole -- it's the brain that's the culprit. The brain craves sugar. And Dr. Ornish could agree with this -- it's very important that we eat every three and a half to four hours and we choose some quality protein. And like John said, if you have red meat, eat -- try to eat...
KING: But we're running out of time. Dean, isn't food that tastes good part of good living?
ORNISH: Well, of course, it is.
KING: If I have got to go around eating, you know?
ORNISH: You know the old joke, am I going to live longer or is it just going to seem longer if I eat this? You don't have to make that choice. You can eat food that's delicious, beautifully presented and healthful. And you can get the protein that you need without any meat, which, unfortunately, meat tends to cause you to get heart disease.
KING: It's Ornish.com. Dr. Dean Ornish. Dr. Doug Markham is the chiropractor with (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SCHNEIDER: That's where my pictures will be.
MARKHAM: At Totalhealthdoc.com.
KING: At Totalhealth.com...
KING: Hey, Jared, keep it off.
FOGLE: I will, I promise. I worked too hard to get it off.
SCHNEIDER: You're such an inspiration, Jared. Thank you for being such an inspiration.
KING: Thank you all very much, and John, thank you for coming forward.
SCHNEIDER: And thank you for the children miracle network telethon. You're a good man.
KING: John Schneider, Jared Fogle, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Douglas Markham. When we come back, we'll tell you about the weekend ahead. Don't go away.
KING: This weekend on LARRY KING WEEKEND tomorrow night, authors like Deepak Chopra's son and Dr. Phil's son and singers like Nancy Sinatra, daughter of someone you may have heard of will be with us. And Sunday night, we'll look back at our interview with the late Rod Steiger.
It's a weekend ahead, but Friday night is important at CNN, especially at 10:00 Eastern, because it's "NEWSNIGHT" time with Aaron Brown.
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