I’m gonna need my own zip code.
Because I’m fat, I’m fat, sha mone.
— Fat by Weird Al Yankovic
Two nicely-written opinions on America’s love-hate relationship with body fat. Despite the crazy amount of travel and delicious baked goods on my schedule this time of year, I’ve managed to fend off the Christmas 10. It’s not heroic self-discipline on my part (natch) but my stomach now rejecting any food and drink beyond a certain limit. Hooray for glucocorticoids.
If you call somebody on the phone in Connecticut, Massachusetts or Vermont and ask how much they weigh, meanwhile, they will say, “Practically nothing. I look pretty good, quite svelte, actually.” Your average Wisconsinite, in the meantime, will say, “I weigh roughly the same as a horse. I am so fat I can barely waddle to the bar — although I do make it there somehow.”
This sort of honesty and good humor, I believe, is what gives us such excellent mental health in comparison to other skinnier and supposedly more sober places. And, the fact is, there are only six states with better mental health than we have, based upon the number of days we tell interviewers we limit our activities for mental reasons. In other words, we Wisconsinites function well on a day-to-day basis — so long as there’s beer or donuts nearby.
Yes, parents have the right to decide what their children eat—but let’s not pretend that many of them don’t make woefully bad decisions. One-third of American children and teenagers are overweight while nearly 20 percent are obese—a shocking rise since 1980, when the childhood obesity rate was barely above 5 percent. One need only look around to confirm these statistics. The consequences already include a spike in early-onset diabetes and high cholesterol. Things will get worse when fat children become fat adults.
… the cult of thinness poses its own health risks, including dangerous diets and eating disorders. It is equally true that no one, adult or child, should be treated cruelly because of body weight. But the answer is not to go to the other extreme and normalize, if not glamorize, obesity or the lifestyle choices that create it. Conservatives have often argued that, in order for a free society to flourish, individual freedom must be coupled with self-restraint. Perhaps some appreciation of this old-fashioned virtue is just what’s needed in the debate over food and fat.