I'm Losing Weight On 767 Calories A Day, Part III
What passes for school lunches has been a national scandal since the Reagan Administration classified ketchup as a vegetable in order to get around the serving requirements for healthy foods in educational institutions. In "Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World" Greg Critser divides the blame between industry and consumers. "Industry embarked on a policy of processing, price-cutting, and portion enlargement to sell in a competitive marketplace, while consumers demanded too much too fast to give producers of healthier foods a chance to compete."
Nowhere is this more evident than in our nation's schools. Most school cafeterias are awash with pizza, chips, soda, and nationally branded fast food franchises. What better place to educate our children about healthy alternatives to typical "fast food" than in our schools. Corporate America could help harried school administrators by using our nation's school cafeterias as a test bed for nutritious food that will appeal to our youth and to the rest of the nation.
The culture of obesity is a culture of improper choices, and when Americans choose unhealthy ways of feeding our families, opportunities arise for Corporate America to profit again. The long-term trend in healthcare is to treat obesity as a disease. Medicare now recognizes obesity as a treatable expense, allowing our tax dollars to fund billions of dollars for pharmaceuticals, surgical procedures, hospitalization, doctor visits, and lost work productivity. This could be minimized by extensive preventative education, but sadly the profit in prevention pales in comparison to the profit opportunities of obesity treatment.
Automobile manufacturers have cashed in on the "super sizing" of the average American, by building high profit margin pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles that are comfortable for larger sized passengers. Even upscale clothing stores, once the bastion of the so-called "beautiful people," now have "Big and Tall" and "Women's Plus" sections for shopping convenience. I clearly remember how in my youth, a size 6 dress was the median. It's now up to a size 14! Some airlines have instituted the necessity to purchase two seats if you are considered "oversized baggage." Take-out food has become a mainstay of many Americans, supplanting the time and care once reserved for "quality family time." All of the additional expenditures to accommodate obesity require more disposable income, leading to hapless consumers caught up in a vicious cycle of stress, overeating, and expense.
The ability to mold our culture is one of our greatest assets as a nation. The fluid state of North American family culture is where the debilitating effects of obesity can be met head-on and reversed. Our present way of life has an inertia that is resistant to change, but it can be changed one person or family at a time. The cultural inertia experienced by the average American is a tendency for harm, not a preordained destiny. To seize the opportunity to live a healthier lifestyle is simple; all we need to do is think for ourselves.
The services and products offered by Corporate America are very necessary to our continued survival as the greatest nation on earth, but there must be a balance maintained between profit and social responsibility. Ultimately, each individual North American is responsible for the nutritional choices made and consumed; it is paramount to make these choices from an informed viewpoint. Today is a great day to walk or ride your bike to the library and see how to wrest your family back from mindless corporate control and throw down a challenge for Corporate America to provide healthier nutritional alternatives.
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