People who live in Manhattan are known for their psychological traumas, for their self love and self doubt, and for keeping the shrinks busy and rich. Yet little could prepare many of us for the shock of waking up one morning to find that fat people apparently live longer than thin people. Few things could have turned our concept of the good, the bad and the ugly upside down more than this. After all, to really 'get' New York when you arrive from anther part of the world, you have to do two things: eat the kind of food that will help you look emaciated, and go to the gym. The reward was the satisfaction that you had the status to look down on much of the rest of the country. They might waddle; you could strut. They might wheeze after climbing a few stairs; you could run the New York marathon. They might queue up for liposuction and gastric bypass surgery; you could settle for Botox. They would die young; you could extend your life beyond 100. But then last week, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta released a new study showing that people who were overweight (although not obese) actually had a lower risk of death than those of normal weight. Suddenly, the world in which the producers of the children's TV series Sesame Street had become so 'correct' that the Cookie Monster's anthem had changed from C is for Cookie to A Cookie is a Sometime Food, and in which even some toddlers are on fat-free diets, no longer seemed dependable. As a result, I am sure that I detected a contemptuous smile on the face of the man whose obese body took up two seats on the subway train, denying me a perch. The mood was summed up by one woman who was asked for her reaction to the new study on CBS News' Sunday Morning show: 'It made me feel like eating a chocolate bar.' The food industry was quick to use the study's results to go on the counterattack against the weight-loss companies, diet-pill makers, class-action lawyers and health professionals it believes concocted a myth about the dangers of fast and processed foods. An organisation called the Centre for Consumer Freedom, funded by restaurant companies, paid for adverts in major newspapers headlined 'Hype' and warning readers that they have been 'force-fed a steady diet of obesity myths by the 'food police', trial lawyers, and even our own government'. Do not be surprised if this study is as damaging in the short run to the diet industry as the low-carb diet fad was to the pasta and bread business. It is time to order that monster burger, large fries and supersized drink, I think.