Maybe this is overly optimistic, but in the midst of a war, an economic recession and the dollar’s declining value, America still seems vital and the future auspicious. Despite price increases in everything from tuition to gas, Americans were once able to hold their heads high in at least one category, but not anymore.
It was news from Australia that shattered the country’s confidence. In a comprehensive study of 14,000 Australian adults, Australia sneaked by the United States to become the world’s most obese nation. The study labeled 26 percent of adult Australians as obese, which is one percent higher than the proportion in America. What a shock! Obesity was the one category in which Americans ranked supreme. When everything else failed and the world criticized our policies, Americans could always take a swig of coke and grab the chips. Now Americans will no longer have the confidence to eat that cheeseburger without wiping the mayo from their mouths. As the number two nation for obesity, our pride will be trampled by humility.
Australians shouldn’t be too gleeful. Just like Americans, they didn’t have to work hard to become the world champions. It’s difficult to make the wrong choice when the price of junk food is cheaper than the price of vegetables and when Coke is cheaper than water. Even if one went against the national consensus and opted to join the cult of vegans, they would starve out relatively quickly because it tends to cost more to eat healthy. After all, why pay more to eat salad at your favorite fast food joint when you can buy a greasy burger for 99 cents?
Some cities like Philadelphia create health initiatives that challenge citizens to lose collectively a predetermined number of pounds. They believe that being overweight is bad, but they underestimate the number of jobs that obesity provides nationally. Think of all the fast food chains and makers of big belts and big shirts, not to mention the attack on our culture. We can’t forget that a size XXL t-shirt is as American as apple pie. What about the critics who feel that eating requires the same regulation as smoking? Eating is a personal choice and it would be a shame to see government-sponsored ads of Garfield and Fat Albert moaning by an IV cord while listlessly staring at an emaciated portrait of Joe Camel.
It seems that this is part of the more systematic problem of outsourcing American fat. In an attempt to curb a rising obesity rate, Japan recently passed legislation penalizing companies whose collective waistlines are over a set threshold. A man over the age of 40 cannot have a waistline bigger than 33.5 inches. The policy aims to ease the tension of a growing healthcare budget burdened with obesity-related ailments. To overcome Ausralia, maybe America will adopt an opposite version of the Japanese law. Only in America would companies receive penalties if their collective waistlines are below a certain threshold.
Furthermore, former slave owners like George Washington should be removed from our bills and replaced with more relevant presidents that represent our times. The frontrunners would definitely be William Taft and Grover Cleveland. If their waistlines were splattered on our bills, it would make the Australians feel insecure about their recent accomplishment. Maybe it could be part of a larger fat-oriented socialization process that would oust Jenny Craig and replace her with Queen Latifah. After such a transition, Americans should celebrate by patriotically gorging on freedom fries. Otherwise, at number two, the terrorists will definitely win.
In all seriousness, it cannot be denied that obesity is an important issue that needs to be addressed not only by America, but all Western nations that are experiencing health concerns as a result of poor eating habits, little exercise and few healthy alternatives. If not, the “fatdemic” will only continue to spread, much to the detriment of our overall health and well-being.
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