Thursday, May 27, 2010


Whether information comes from the radio, television, internet, or newspaper, one cannot help but hear the talking heads and so-called experts admonishing Americans on their weight problems.  Some overweight Americans take it personally.  They try to do something about it. On the other hand, others take a defensive stance.  They revel in the idea that being fat is gorgeous.  Even Americans of normal weight, begin to wonder if they too should be on a diet.

These experts offer solutions or suggestions as to the root cause of this problem.  Most of it, of course, is either their speculation or opinion.  Jamie Oliver, the energetic young Brit, vies for the top spot as the new guru of America’s weight problem.  He believes he has the solution to their overeating and fast food addiction.  He hopes to teach America how to cook and eat right.

On a recent episode that I stumbled across, Jamie teaches one-thousand Virginians how to cook stir-fry noodles and frozen vegetables.  He maintains that America’s diet is devoid of variety and nutritional value. Jamie Oliver’s idea of teaching Americans how to cook and eat correctly is like “selling coal to Newcastle.”  Americans already enjoy the greatest variety of food in the world, and are not scared to experiment with their palate.  Jamie’s stir-fry noodles and frozen vegetables are not going to cut it.

Some television networks, without artistic imagination or merit, use those who are overweight as cheap entertainment in the guise of a “reality show.”  Their shortcomings and failures play out for the world, larger than life, in the pretense of weight management.

Every week, “The Biggest Loser” has Americans glued to their television sets enjoying the pain of these grotesquely overweight human beings.  The host takes on an air of judge and arbiter of these people lumbering their way up some steps to an industrial-size scale.  Jillian Michaels and her partner put these people through their brutal, rigorous, and sometimes humiliating exercise regime only to find that some of these people are gaining, instead of losing, inches.

Other networks dispense with advice all together and choose to “document” the enormity of the weight problem through following the lives of individuals who have completely lost all self-control. Millions of viewers look forward to watching shows like “The 1000-pound Man.” Sadly, I am also guilty of indulging in the spectacle. I must admit that a person eating his or her way to 1000 pounds must be very determined; it makes for compelling viewing.

With the aid of their family and friends, we watch them eat their way through mountains of starch and grease every day. Watching this behavior reminded me of a captivating show about a society of insects presented on Discovery Channel. During the show, worker termites scurried about gathering food for their enormous queen. The workers’ job is to feed and protect her.

It is hard to conceive that humans could so closely mirror insect behavior. However, just like the queen termite, morbidly obese, and immobile, people require help from others to fuel their voracious appetites. Unfortunately, this is also detrimental to their health. The queen termite’s sole purpose is to lie around and reproduce; humans need to be mobile.

After catching a glimpse of the outside world while propped up in his bed for the first time in years, a TV station offered the 1000-pound man help to become mobile again, in exchange for live daily coverage. The TV producers, doctors, dieticians and camera crew created a circus-like atmosphere. After losing something like one-hundred pounds, they used a forklift to hoist him, bed and all, onto a flatbed truck, and drive him around town. People lined the streets and waved, as if paying homage to a sovereign.

Listen up America; you have it all wrong again. Americans do not want to hear how to eat, exercise or lose weight. Do not believe all that hype about overeating and fast food. You are immune to diet and exercise programs.

In my opinion, Americans became "fat" when leisure suits hit the market and became fashionable. You expanded when you could not feel your belt tightening around your waistline. Another thing, cheap sweat pants made in China got Americans hooked on comfort. You are convinced that sitting around on mountains of soft tissue is the norm. This might be stretching it a bit, however I think there is one way to attack your weight dilemma: restrict or totally ban the use of “stretchy” materials for clothing.

Spandex only temporarily alleviates your weight problem. Yet today, “Spanx” is mainstreamed. Even men wear “Spanx” to streamline their beer gut. Denim is no longer made of one hundred percent stiff cotton, but eighty percent cotton and twenty percent, you guessed it, Spandex. We no longer have to hold our breath to pull up the zipper on our jeans. It is trendy to wear something to control loose flesh. A minimum amount of flexibility in clothing is acceptable, but not solely to accommodate ever-expanding bodies. In my opinion, Americans will regain control of their weight, when they lose their addiction to elasticized materials.

© 2010 Mouth Wired Shut

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