be Queen Latifah hawking Jenny Craig," was my initial thought when I saw the ad for the weight-loss chain last week on television.

Wasn't it Latifah who gave all that lip service to being 200-plus pounds and loving it in a recent issue of People magazine? Isn't she the former spokesperson for Pizza Hut?

Now she claims she wants to be an example of good health and nutrition for the masses by focusing on losing 5 percent to 10 percent of her body weight.

I thought she was already living a healthy


For years, she's had a celebrity trainer and professed to being in excellent condition. But in the commercial for Jenny she says, "I see myself getting healthier, having more energy and feeling better."

Isn't this a bit hypocritical, considering for the past few years the Queen has been telling folks to "gather round the good stuff" at Pizza Hut - and presumably stuff themselves silly?

The question is, has she come full circle or has she just sold out? To me it's obvious that the Queen's main objective is getting paid and not being a role model for the masses, as she proclaims.

This so shocked me I felt I had to share my thoughts this week instead of continuing my series on fitness during pregnancy. I'll return to that worthy subject next week.

But first . . .

The average woman doesn't need Jenny Craig. She needs a

lifestyle makeover that incorporates daily exercise and portion-controlled, wholesome and nutritious foods.

At its best, Jenny Craig is a quick-fix, temporary solution, in my opinion, and one that will inevitably lead most dieters back to where they started: overweight.

Expensive, pre-packaged fake food in abysmally small portions is not a sustainable lifestyle choice.

But I assume the folks at Jenny Craig saw the enormous potential of the black female dollar. African-American spending in proportion to income continues to grow, according to an annual report on black spending issued yesterday by Target Market News, and black women are the single biggest influence in that growth. African-Americans spend $53.9 billion annually on food, the study found.

"We are thrilled to have Queen Latifah support our mission of improving health by taking her first step toward achieving a more healthful lifestyle," Scott Parker, vice president of marketing for Jenny Craig, told People in December.

The National Center for Health Statistics says that 79.5 percent of African-American women over age 20 are overweight or obese, according to statistics for the years 2001-2004. So the clever advertisers at Jenny came up with a new spin for the Queen's campaign. She's focusing on a "healthy life," not weight loss.

"I didn't want anybody to suddenly get the idea that I was suddenly unhappy with my body image and wanted to lose 50 pounds," Latifah said in an Essence magazine interview.

Oh, what a crock.

If Latifah was as sincere as she claims to be about educating her fans on healthy lifestyle habits and issues such as diabetes, she would do something like become a volunteer spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association.

Certainly, she knows the "masses" she claims to want to help can't afford expensive Jenny Craig foods. Why not write a cookbook to show others how to eat healthy, portion-controlled real food? Or do an exercise video?

Oh yeah, I forgot. There's not much money in integrity.

The truth of the matter is, a lot of folks are out here fronting with a lot of clever advertising, false bravado, or worse, ignorant defiance.

While I'm all for healthy self-esteem, I think it's pure foolishness for us to continue pretending that it's cool to carry an extra 25, 50, or 100 or more pounds as if there are no consequences.

We must stop treating obesity as a self-esteem issue and a positive lifestyle choice and start dealing with the facts: Obesity is one of the leading causes of disease, disability and death in this country.

As a nation, we continue to lie to ourselves that carrying excess weight has no consequences. Our children's waistlines expand, setting them up for a lifetime of health problems.

Doctors are seeing an unprecedented rise in lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes in children. Many doctors say that the next generation is almost guaranteed a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

Millions of American adults suffer from poor mobility, heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes. Billions are spent annually on obesity-related health problems.

Clever advertising with celebrity endorsers generally adds insult to injury. I'm afraid the bottom line is that neither Jenny Craig nor Queen Latifah are about health or fitness. For them, it's all about the almighty dollar.

Heart to heart

The Sister to Sister Foundation is hosting a Healthy Heart Day Fair from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. The event is free.

The Sister to Sister Foundation is hosting a Healthy Heart Day Fair from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Philadelphia Convention Center, 1101 Arch St. The event is free.

There will be free blood pressure, glucose and body mass index screenings as well as demonstrations on beauty regimens, cooking and fitness. Plus, seminars on nutrition, obesity, fitness, smoking cessation and stress management. *

Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).

E-mail her at

kimberly@1on1ultimatefitness.com. Her column appears each Thursday in Yo! Chat with her on her Daily News weblog, the Girlfriends' Locker Room, at www.girlfriendslockerroom.com. Her new podcast, "Philly Fitness and Health," is available for download every Thursday at www.philly.com.