09 October 2008

Fat Americans

During my sojourn in Paris I saw fat people from time to time. When I did, I played a game in which I would attempt to assess the nationality of the person or couple. Often times the individual(s) were visually overtly American; in the few instances when this visual inspection was insufficient I would move closer for an aural inspection of English or French speaking. Time and again my arithmetic instinct of fat=American was confirmed. If only to prove the point further, upon flying into Salt Lake City from Paris I passed through the American airport to see with my heightened awareness soft gut after soft gut to all sides. The panopalic visual experience was much like the olfactory one on the Parisian streets in which a constant cloud of cigarette smoke hung in the air (and surely my mother Hwei-ling Greeney would have suffered).

Regardless of the veracity of my equation in Paris, we can confirm the truth behind the equation 0.64Americans=Fat. This first-world problem which has largely emerged in the last 40 years is taxing our health care system and economy. To handle this public health issue we need to recognize that the potential cost savings can pay for the anti-obesity initiatives. As we struggle to reign in government spending, live healthier lives, and be a world leader, this is one issue in which we can have our vegetables and eat them.

1 comment:

Spring said...

I imagine you have seen the latest Michael Pollan op-ed? He does a nice job of summarizing the relevance of food issues to national security, energy, and the environment.

Though I must say, I'm increasingly of the opinion that the current obesity epidemic is symptomatic of a larger problem, not just a problem in itself. I haven't yet read Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" but I suspect that increasing atomization/isolation of individuals within the US is a large cause of this increase in obesity. I bet you'd find lower incidence of obesity in areas with great "social capital" (admittedly, though hard to prove causation).

Joining you in the blogosphere,