Living Off the Fat of the Land

Michael Kelly made the same point this summer, more amusingly and in aesthetic terms, but the op-ed in Saturday’s Washington Post presents a bleak picture of America. We’re too fat.

Obesity is epidemic, as Surgeon General David Satcher noted this week. More than 120 million Americans are classified as either overweight or obese. Obese people are twice as likely as those of normal weight to develop Type 2 diabetes, 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease and 86 percent more likely to get colon cancer. Last year obesity cost the nation $92 billion, according to federal figures.Since 1970 the percentage of the U.S. population that is obese has increased by 60 percent. At that rate, we risk wiping out the tremendous gains made in the past 25 years against cancer and heart disease by the middle of the 21st century.

And it’s not your fault!

[T]he larger problem lies with the environment. We are surrounded by tasty, cheap, high-fat food, while fruits and vegetables are comparatively more expensive and less readily available. Our suburbs are built without sidewalks, our kids buy candy and soda in the hallways at school, and our sense of portion size is so out of control that we think a 600-calorie cinnamon bun (about a quarter of the total calories the average man needs per day) is a snack. We could not have designed an environment more conducive to getting fat.

Cinnamon bun…mmmmm! I’m hungry already.

Maybe some passionate, idealistic visionary will create a fast-food chain based on tasty, cheap, low-fat fruits and vegetables. I don’t think it would last a week. Everybody likes fat. “97% fat-free” equals “97% taste-free” in my book. I once read that a century ago, our forefathers lived on a diet of “clearly recognizable body parts cooked in fat.” They also worked their butts off on farms, in mines, and in factories. The only way I work my butt is pulling it off a chair. Furthermore, cheap low-fat fruits and vegetables don’t have any taste at all. We can grow apples the size of a softball and strawberries three inches across, but they have no flavor.

Still, the situation is disgraceful. Something must be done. $92 billion dollars! In one year! No one warned me about the dangers of fat until I became hopelessly addicted. I’ll bet there are some documents locked away in some industry file drawer detailing how we were all duped into arteriosclerosis, colon cancer, and diabetes. Does someone know a trial lawyer? Of course, the government needs to recover its costs too…

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