Obesity is getting a bad rap.
One propaganda source commonly cited by the "Fatzis" is a CDC study that concludes that being fat is worse for you than smoking. Putting aside the fact that getting fat is an order of magnitude more fun than getting lung cancer, how long will it be before you won't be permitted to eat in a restaurant?
I think our friends in Atlanta aren't looking at the big picture.
First, let me make it crystal clear that I have great respect for the CDC, particularly as they are the ones who decide if I qualify for a swine flu vaccination. But notwithstanding my boundless regard for the institution, I feel compelled to raise a few flags about its study.
Let's first take the low-hanging fruit. The CDC assigns no dollar amount to the psychological costs of staying thin, but as we all know, there is enormous stress associated with keeping off pounds. The phrase "Watching my weight" is uttered as frequently today as "Does the pasta come with mashed potatoes?" In such an environment, it is inevitable that millions of Americans arise each morning, measure the diameter of their thighs, then head to the offices of shrinks who charge $200 an hour for telling them that they're imagining they're fat.
In contrast, let's assume that you're not "watching your weight" but "watching your TV." You're holding a bag of Fritos in one hand and a Bud in the other. You're having what used to be known as "a good time." Your head is in the right place. You are a happy camper.
Plainly you are not a candidate for the couch -- at least not a psychiatrist's couch. Your sloth, your lassitude, your lack of willpower notwithstanding, you aren't going to be asking your insurance company to shell out $200 an hour to some guy with volumes of Freud and Jung on his shelf, who most likely could shed a few pounds himself.
So already we have a savings of $200 times the 72 million people whom, in a 2006 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, were deemed to be obese. In other words, if you just let fat people be fat people you're going to save the country $36 billion in psychiatrists' bills.
But there's more.
The CDC also says that merely limiting the number of calories you funnel into your pie hole isn't sufficient. Oh no, those calories have to be part of a "balanced diet" that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Shoot me now.
The CDC folks have again failed to see the pod for the peas. If the obese people in America were confined to a diet consisting only of the forgoing items, they would hit the $200 couches faster than you could install heavy-duty springs in them. Thus, the same 72 million Americans whose obesity could produce a $36 billion saving in health care costs if we just let them do their thing, would increase those costs by the identical amount if forced to follow a "healthy" regimen. And that assumes it would take only an hour per fatty (actually, fifty minutes) to ameliorate the trauma.
There is hard data to support the proposition that Americans believe that encouraging obesity is the way to bring health care costs into line. For example, a recent CBS poll says that 60% of our countrymen oppose a tax on junk food. Similarly, Anderson Cooper's barber reports that 73% of Americans think we should halt the manufacture, importation and maintenance of bathroom scales. Crowning the case is a recent finding by Viro Franco, a professor of pathology at the University of Palermo, who after a lengthy study of the Mona Lisa has concluded that her smile is the product of "a subcutaneous accumulation of cholesterol around her left eye." You can Google it.
In sum, the case against obesity is weak and quite possibly a fraud, foisted upon the eating public by Small Pharma. Apart from watching Oprah, how can something essential to our daily survival be bad for us?
What we need to do is step back, take a deep breath, then try to take another step and another breath. What we'll realize is that continued, widespread obesity is the key to the future of this nation. If we refuse to bend to those who insist that we bid au voir to our avoirdupois, we can have our cake, eat our cake, and have enough change in our pockets to buy another cake.
Obese people arise and unite!
If that's a problem, unite would be fine.
When he is not in custody, Mark can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org