Transcript: Simmons Says

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 2, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: I have really been looking forward to this interview.

From Super Bowl Sunday to super-sized appetites, Americans take their game day — well, their game day treats, at least — pretty seriously, with favorites such as potato chips and chicken wings and pizza.


CAVUTO: Well, we're going to consume more than 20 million pounds of snacks on Sunday alone. And that is just in my house. So, does our waistline have to suffer?

Let's ask fitness guru, Richard Simmons.

Hey, good to have you.

SIMMONS: Neil, how are you?

CAVUTO: I'm fine. How you doing?

SIMMONS: My first time meeting you.

CAVUTO: Same here. Same here.

But we do this every...

SIMMONS: You're so smart. And you know a lot about news and stuff. That's I guess why you have the show.

CAVUTO: Well, and I'm honored to have you.

SIMMONS: Thank you very much.

CAVUTO: And you argue this is the time of year we botch it, don't we?

SIMMONS: This is the time of year where I call 50 to 100 people a day. This is the time of year where people get very depressed.

It all starts with depression. If you don't love yourself, and know your self-worth, you don't care about yourself. And you will eat whatever you want to eat. You will stop exercising. And you will feel like you have no self-esteem and self-respect.

CAVUTO: So, when you see the obesity epidemic we have in this country, it's just a bunch of depressed people, or is it more than that?

SIMMONS: I think a lot has to do with depression.

I think a lot of people have stopped trying, because they feel they have failed so much. But that's why God made me. You know, I have a radio show now on Sirius Satellite Radio on Sundays called "Lighten Up." I talk to anywhere from 20 to 30 people. I read their letters, Neil, and then I call them right there on the show.

So, I will call a woman who is 300 pounds, and I will call a woman who was 300 pounds and just lost 150, and have them talk.

CAVUTO: How have you kept it off, though? You were, what? Two hundred and sixty eight-pounds, I read?

SIMMONS: Two-sixty-eight.

I'm a compulsive eater. I'm from New Orleans.


SIMMONS: If I found a small little dusty M&M in this chair, Neil, I would fight you for it.

CAVUTO: But you kept it off all these years. How?

SIMMONS: I exercise.


SIMMONS: I teach 500 classes a year. I just did four new videos. I have a Web site called, where we get thousands and thousands of e-mails a day.

And I just take it one call at a time, one person at a time, to give them hope, and respect them, and make them feel worthy of this wonderful life we lead.

CAVUTO: And fat people aren't, aren't they? They aren't respected?

SIMMONS: No, they're not.

CAVUTO: You and I were saying during the break, it's really the last accepted form of prejudice in our society.

SIMMONS: It is terrible the way overweight people are treated, overweight children, overweight teens. I talk to them on my radio show. I try to help parents deal with this obesity problem, because it really is serious.

CAVUTO: What do you tell the parents?

SIMMONS: Well, usually, one or both parents are overweight. So, you have to look at the whole family.

I'm now going to take my radio show, "Lighten Up," and make it a TV show, where I will read the letter. I will go to the city. I will meet the family. I will create a new, you know, food program for them, get them to exercise, get them to love themselves more, and then follow their progress.

You know, all the shows on television now are about competition, you know, from "The Biggest Loser" to all those other ones. It's all about competing to lose weight. What a disgusting message to give the American consumer, that you can lose weight quick and win a prize. This is not about a prize.

CAVUTO: You say get off the fad thing and do all the nonsense, just...

SIMMONS: Hey, I was taking 30 laxatives a day. I was taking diet pills. I was throwing up. I starved. I almost died a couple times, because I thought I would be accepted and loved more.

And that's not true. The love has to come from within. And you have to look in the mirror one day and say, I don't like what I am looking at, and I have high cholesterol. I'm not going to try anything stupid. I'm going to make my portions smaller. I'm going to move my body. And I'm going to look in the mirror...

CAVUTO: But do you ever, like, hide in a corner of, like, a Baskin- Robbins, and just down, like, a triple sundae or something?

SIMMONS: See, I knew you would get to these tempting questions.

CAVUTO: I'm curious, because you keep in great shape. You've got to cheat now and then.

SIMMONS: But I don't call it cheating. If I want a small piece of pecan pie from New Orleans, Louisiana, my hometown, and it's Saturday night, I will have it. I have dessert every Saturday night.

CAVUTO: But is everybody watching you, what is Richard Simmons — aha.


CAVUTO: He's having a pecan pie.


SIMMONS: No. When I go to restaurant, people get upset if I'm sitting next to them, because they have ordered a lobster this big.


SIMMONS: I just want to say to your listeners not to give up.


SIMMONS: Not to give up. If you have weight to lose, you know, the whole country is surgery happy.

CAVUTO: What do you make of that, that whole thing?

SIMMONS: It's very sad. Now, look, if someone is 800, 1,000 pounds, I will get them a doctor for the surgery. And I will give them 15 more years to live.

But someone who is 200, 300 pounds — you can do it.

CAVUTO: It's an easy way out, right?

SIMMONS: It is. And you know, unless you're educated, Neil, you're going to gain the weight back.

CAVUTO: Right.

SIMMONS: It just happens so easy.

CAVUTO: Now, I have noticed, with your fans, Richard, I mean, they not — when they go up to, they not only hug you. I mean, it's an emotional bonding, because you don't treat them like trash. And our society treats overweight people like trash, doesn't it?

SIMMONS: And I'm very ashamed of that, because we're all human beings, in God's image and likeness. And I walk down the street, and I see what people say and do to overweight people. And it's just not right.

Whether you're a kid or a teen or an adult who has a weight problem, there is a solution. And that solution is education and knowledge and taking better care of yourself.

And, you know, I just wish, in my lifetime I can live in a world where people are not judged by their weight, their color, their religion. We're all a family, even you and me.

CAVUTO: All right. Richard Simmons, I wish we had so much more time.

SIMMONS: Well, I will come back...

CAVUTO: We left a bunch of cannolis and bakery products in there, just seeing if you would pig out. But you didn't.


CAVUTO: No. You didn't.


CAVUTO: You look terrific, seriously.

SIMMONS: Thank you very much, sir.

CAVUTO: Very good seeing you, Richard Simmons.

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