Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughts After a Big Meal

The world is obsessed with food, half of the world obsessed with getting enough of it to cover their ribs, the other half obsessed with managing the glut it is “blessed with” while still keeping their toes in sight.

Many things contribute to the struggle that much of the world must go through to feed itself: war, natural disaster, greed, geography, climate conditions. Some say there is food enough in the world for everyone to eat a healthy diet but that problems of distribution keep two-thirds of the world hungry. I suspect that “distribution” is a euphemism for all those conditions just named. So in reality there is no reason, other than human indifference or perversity, for the food shortages in the third world.

But for much of the world food has become a narcotic. We eat not so much because we are hungry or even because we know the food is good for us. In many cases it isn’t good for us. But still we fill our plates, probably in an attempt to fill an emptiness we sense in our deepest being. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” we’ve been told. Our spirits tell us it is so but our “flesh” is weak and so we fill our plates.

In the United States, and most other wealthy countries, obesity is epidemic, even among the very young. Visit any buffet and look at the number of morbidly obese clients. Visit any hospital or clinic and be amazed at how many staff persons are seriously obese. Visit any playground and see the obese children. Visit any nursing home and count the number of obese residents. Walk by a mirror and you may very well observe obesity.

What to do about it? Michelle Obama is being pilloried by some who see her attempt to raise our nation’s awareness of childhood obesity as an intrusion upon the rights of families to manage their own affairs. Fair enough if families are managing adequately. But the evidence says something different. And we all pay the price in higher medical costs, insurance cost, and reduced productivity when we, and our fellow Americans, allow ourselves and our children to become too fat for our own good.

It is time we go on a diet, personally and culturally. Me first!

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