America: Land of the free and home of the fat

America is a divided country. We’re split on the war in Iraq, gay marriage, the economy and whether Bill Rancic really deserved to win on The Apprentice. But we can always unite over one thing

America is a divided country. We’re split on the war in Iraq, gay marriage, the economy and whether Bill Rancic really deserved to win on The Apprentice. But we can always unite over one thing – food.

Being overweight is so common these days that it’s perceived to be normal. Five years ago I worried whether people would make fun of my kangaroo pouch of a stomach. Now I feel perfectly fine because almost everyone else has one as well.

Our love of food has gone too far. Obesity rivals cigarette smoking as the leading cause of preventable death among Americans. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, 64 percent of Americans are overweight or obese – obesity referring to the condition of being severely overweight.

Food is just as deadly as a drug because to many, food is a drug – a convenient one. Junk food is a daily staple for many Americans because it’s cheap and convenient. Grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and airports are decorated with aisles of wrapped candy and chips in every size and flavor. In high school, I was more likely to see a line for the five vending machines than the two bathrooms.

Consumers continue to look for scapegoats. Fast food restaurants have received lawsuits from overweight patrons claiming that their unhealthy food causes obesity. Fast food restaurants and junk food companies are simply cashing in on American’s obsession with quick and easy food.

Instead of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, networks should air Who Wants to Become CEO of a Junk Food Maker. They are aiming to make a profit just like the rest of society. And in billion-dollar industries such as these, profits are guaranteed.

Retail companies are profiting from obesity also, with stores now specializing in plus-sizes. It’s impossible for me to glance at a shopping catalog without seeing, “Now in sizes 0-29” in bright letters on the front cover.

Surgical proceedings, such as the increasingly popular gastric bypass, reduce one’s stomach to the size of a golf ball. What happened to controlling your food intake? Some overweight Americans are demanding that insurance cover the costs of the surgery.

Similar to those who demand tobacco companies to cover the costs of their cancer treatment, this is placing blame in the wrong hands. As consumers, it is our duty to take care of ourselves.

It’s absurd to demand that fast food restaurants offer healthy products. Pizza Hut is currently promoting its salads as a means of healthier dining. It’s called Pizza Hut, not Salad Hut. When I walk in, I want a pizza. Convenience stores are synonymous with junk food.

There would be nationwide protests if the colorful aisles of potato chip-filled convenience stores were suddenly decorated with the soothing green of celery and brilliant orange of carrots.

Obesity’s takeover of American society is inexcusable. Home-cooked meals are replaced with fast food because it’s convenient. Every day I see children attending local schools carrying bags of Wendy’s home – dinner for the whole family. It’s no secret that a poor diet can lead to several health problems.

But so does a lack of exercise. The Office of the Surgeon General continues to say that 40 percent of Americans never exercise. Many complain that they are too busy to exercise, yet they have the time to spend hours watching television daily. It’s easy to combat this dilemma by exercising while watching television. The IBC features televisions for those who just can’t miss their favorite show – provided it isn’t on cable.

The increase in obesity spans all ages, racial and ethnic groups and both genders. At the very least, we’re united about something.

Stephanie Young can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.