War on weight

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The national obsession with obesity shows no signs of slowing any time soon. If anything, the issue of our expanding waistlines is just hitting full stride. It is virtually impossible to escape the constant drone over the issue of weight in this country.

There's a valid reason for some of this discussion. With a clear link between weight and a host of health issues, it's appropriate to engage in a national dialogue. But, as with all things, there is an issue with overkill.

The popular magazines in our culture can't seem to find anything more appropriate to feature than the issue of weight, more specifically celebrity weight. It's becoming almost comical to see which flabby celebrity will make the cover of this week's People magazine.

Politicians are not to be left out of the obesity discussion. It's impossible to accurately pinpoint the countless legislative remedies to address the growing problem. States now want to impose punitive taxes on sodas and junk food. Schools want to restrict the menu selections for students. Airlines want to charge more for bulging passengers.

Daytime talk shows would run dry on program ideas were it not for our obesity obsession. You simply can turn nowhere without encountering some lively discussion on weight.

Granted, there is ample fodder for these discussions. Some studies show that as many as 40 percent of our population has a substantial weight issue and as many as 75 percent of the population fights the waistline battle to some extent.

Weight equates to health issues and health issues equate to higher medical costs. Since we appear headed for some form of socialized medicine, taxpayers will soon be paying the added premium to tackle the weight issue.

Our politicians -- God bless 'em! -- always believe we can solve a problem with more education and more money. If the American population hasn't learned by now that diet and exercise play a role in being overweight, no additional amount of "education" is going to work. So stop thinking some new brochure handed out at social service centers will somehow magically change someone's poor habits. It won't.

I suspect our newfound fascination with weight has a psychological benefit actually. If we can read about some famous celebrity who is battling the bulge, then our own extra poundage doesn't seem quite so bad.

There was a time long ago when those extra pounds were flattering. But history tells us that the weighty look then was a sign that you were wealthy enough to afford sufficient food to gain that bulk. In other words, fat was a status symbol.

Who knows, given the growing statistics on weight, we may be returning to that Rubenesque era.

But do not fear, Our federal government will come to the rescue and turn that flab into six-pack abs before you know it. After all, the feds have had such success with our War on Poverty and our War on Drugs that a War on Weight will be a small task to tackle.

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