Monday, 26 April, 2004

Random thoughts in the war on fat

North Carolina is going to spend $10 million on programs to educate adults and children about better eating habits and the benefits of exercise.  The CDC has released its list of the states with the worst obesity epidemics, with Mississippi, Louisiana, and West Virginia topping the list.  As a reward, 25 Mississippi schools will get $40,000 to be used in staving off the epidemic.  A study in London shows (depending on who you believe) that efforts to cut children's soft drink consumption will reduce the number of overweight children.  A Chicago Sun-Times editorial suggests that parents (perish the thought!) should serve as role models for their children in establishing good eating and exercise habits.  News stories abound about the increasing incidence of obesity in the U.S. and the increasing strain that our bulging waistlines are putting on an already overburdened health care system.  Everybody's talking about it and everybody has an idea that will solve the problem.  Unfortunately, most of those ideas involve throwing money at the problem, which we should know by now won't do a damned thing except make some fat slob rich.

There are even some naysayers out there who dispute the correlation between obesity and long-term health consequences like heart disease and diabetes.  I'm not sure what they're trying to accomplish, but their voices are becoming increasingly shrill.  One of their biggest arguments is that the Body Mass Index (BMI) standard is biased toward an unrealistically thin ideal, and with that I'll agree.  At my current weight, according to the BMI standard, I'm just at the edge of obese, which is laughable.  That's the only one of their arguments that holds water.  Granted, there's no proof that being 200 lbs overweight is the cause, but the correlation sure makes one think.  Or should.

I'm convinced that the only reason the Bush Administration hasn't declared a "War on Fat" is that they're afraid they'd piss off too many people who would then switch their votes.  It'd be kind of funny, come to think of it, to watch John Kerry's reaction to an announced War on Fat.  I can't say whether he'd try to out-exercise the President (a tough thing to do, by all reports) or gain 50 lbs just to differentiate himself.  Either way, it'd be amusing.