Our nation's youth are getting larger. The fat pundits point to a number of factors. These factors, from fast food to television to gluttonous parents to no parents, have tag teamed to create quite a little obesity problem.
This problem is slowly killing kids-- and destroying every shred of their self confidence and dignity along the way.
They're choosing their methods of demise in one of the places where one would think they would be most protected--schools.
Many school cafeterias are now vast cornucopias of fast food choices. Gone are the days of the hamburger with complimentary bone chip, tater tots, and prunes, or chili, with peanut butter sandwich, and prunes.
Those were nutritious, wholesome meals and if there was left over peanut butter, the janitor could use a tub or two as roofing cement. Prunes were simply recycled until some poor kid's colon exploded while playing 4-square.
Greasy triple cheeseburgers, chubby chalupas, saturated deep dish pizzas, and meaty cheddar roast beefs washed down with what amounts to liquefied sacks of sugar are now the staples of the cafeteria experience.
Don't forget the healthy sides like fries, nachos, and those tasty little deep fried tacos quenched with smoking hot lard that make a person osmotically gain a pound or two just by looking at em.
These items consist of fat, sodium, and sugar--the cheapest and tastiest ingredients for companies to sell. It's all about keeping a watchful eye toward their bottom lines while kiddies' waist lines are growing faster than Anna Nicole Smith can get to your last Krispy Kreme pastry of goodness.
Another more watchful, and nervously exacting, eye on a bottom line of a different sort is the school administrator's.
It's no secret they sell the serving and pouring rights to fund computer labs, fine arts programs, and pro-quality athletic equipment. It's an odd relationship to say the least.
What's the use of super duper athletic stuff when your football team can't run half the length of the field without succumbing to a Big Mac attack followed by fudge withdrawals?
And what's the use of a dance program when the stage has to be reinforced with expensive solid steel girders from the oppressive girth of the troupe?
And what's the use of a music program during the ballet when the instruments blaring from the pit are in competition with what sounds like a crazed herd of armadillos prancing and pirouetting to and fro on this stage of absurdly large asses?
And what's the use of a computer lab when nearly every kid has every electronic diversion known to man in their own bedrooms in which they already spend way, way too much time?
Childhood obesity, or 'pre-middle aged fatness' as I like to call it, in many ways, comes down to the root of all evil: Money. School districts need more money than ever to satiate youngsters need for the latest technologies so our schools can compete with their schools in online gaming. Who can blame them for seeking alternative means of revenue?
Taxpayers are tired of paying, school boards stretch, break, patch, and obliterate paltry budgets, and who comes running to save the day: Purveyors of fast food, carbonated beverages, and snacks who are willing to pay schools to feed our kids. And who can blame them?
Brand loyalty is at stake and the younger the market to penetrate, the better.
This is a page straight out of the tobacco industry's play book. Fortunately, a pack of smokes on every kid's lunch tray might not fly in this era of healthy living. Heck, these days a person gets persecuted more for puffing on West Virginia's finest than smoking a nice, juicy crack rock from downtown Detroit.
With this new relationship firmly in place, between the school board and chairmen of the board, the district meets the demands of a fiscally challenging budget. The children and parents get the education and all of its flowery amenities they feel they deserve. Kids just get fat and miserable. The industry profits--and best of all--they have a young captive audience's collective wallet to graze over for years and years and years.
Just how long for the most indulgent of students?
Well, at least the new gigantic football scoreboard and the cushioned loungers in the multimedia lab will be around for a while.