Monday, August 08, 2016

Fat City

While living in small-town America, I always had an idea that I was going to go sit in some public place -- Starbucks, the Mall, a bar -- and live-blog humorous observations about American people.

The idea never bore fruit, despite numerous attempts.

Because, basically, there's only one observation you can make about people in small-town America -- why is everybody so fat?

And of course there's a global epidemic of obesity. This isn't just an American problem. 

I'm not going to sit here and make fun of fat people, or sing the merits of fat shaming. (Although I might point out that many of the bloggers who spend a lot of time fat shaming women on the internet are themselves not exactly svelte.) These videos by this guy are pretty eloquent and moving statements of the problems faced by overweight people:

And then there was my martial arts class I took, where the instructor and several of the black belts could be dscribed as a bit fat -- shaped like silver-back gorillas, they were nonetheless strong, fast, and had plenty of endurance for 90 minutes of martial arts training that left many thinner people completely exhausted.

So yes, advertising and Hollywood and porn probably give us unrealistic body images, sure. Everbody doesn't need to be rail thin.

But that's a seperate problem from how fucking fat so many people are in America.

The strange thing is that the obesity epidemic is always couched in terms of personal choice in a way that I don't quite get. It seems pretty clear to me that the obesity problem is an issue of addiction, pure and simple.

This article in the New York Times offers proof that food companies exploit the addictive qualities of sugar and salt (and advertising) to make us eat more of it, and numerous studies recently have shown that sugar is about as addictive as any other powerful drug. I see the enormous amount of sugar consumed by my nephews and my father (who are not fat) and it makes me realize that obesity is just the visible end of a larger problem of the incredibly unhealthy food most people eat now (Obviously, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc, are the other visible ends.)

 And this is not just personal choice, but a public health issue of people with addiction problems.

And what are we going to do about it?

So we could take a War on Drugs approach -- make it completely illegal and declare military war on users and dealers of sugar.

Or we could take the much more sensible War on Smoking approach -- simply tax the shit out of sugar, forbid advertising and use in films, and perhaps also forbid use in public places.

And I personally wonder, is there a connection between the decline in smoking and the increase in obesity? All those pople who would have been out having a cigarette are instead having a Frappucino or a doughnut instead.

Addiction shapes the world in ways I never really noticed when I was fucked up all the time. More on that next entry.


Simienfox said...

The problem is once you live abroad you'll always compare. After I came back from two years in Ethiopia, most people seem fat here.

brian said...

As someone who was nearly 400 lbs., I know how addictive sugar can be. I've since dropped to 270, but as my numbers are better than good, my doctor is fine with my weight - for now. That being said, I find that the differentiation between Americans and the rest of the world is exercise more than caloric consumption, though we eat shit foods. We rarely walk anywhere, and our living arraignments seemingly exist to prevent the activity. I believe it's getting better, with the advent of Fit Bits, back filling downtown districts that encourage walking over driving, etc. I also agree that we should tax the living shit out of sugar, using the money to pay for public health programs, and I say this as someone who hates taxes.

Anonymous said...

yep, all about the sugar and also not walking anywhere. And people get on these retarded diets, like paleo or atkins or whatever, funny I don't see the rice eating starving poor of Asia getting fat yet Americans (other westerners too) think they will be fit gorging on pork bellies.

I have also noticed the tobacco issue. Before men smoked or dipped or chewed and I believe that kept the sugar urge at bay. That speaks for the men at least.