Jewish World Review May 3, 2002 /21 Iyar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,
While our nurse was conducting a routine exam on your son at school today, she noticed something troubling about the lad: he's as big as a house.
Now we are not blaming you entirely for your son's obesity, nor are we questioning your skills as a parent. But the facts are not good. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson set them out. He said the public health problems associated with obesity among the nation's youth are causing a major economic health care burden, in addition to having a profound affect on individual health.
The fact is, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, obesity among children is something of an epidemic in America (among adults, too). We're a rich country with many choices. And because we're so busy, a lot of us choose to go out to eat. And where are most of us eating? Fast food joints.
To be sure, fast food is tasty stuff. Excess salt and fat are the ingredients that gives the food its yummy flavor. But we are eating too much of it. We are biggy-izing every fast food meal, which include drinks so big, according to Dennis Miller, we can dock a jet ski in them.
And while your kid is consuming excess fat and empty-calories, there is something he isn't doing: exercising. Not long ago, being a kid meant playing baseball and soccer and football all day long. Now it means sitting in front of the television or computer, while stuffing unhealthy treats into his gullet.
Well, you don't have to be a doctor to know that excess fast food combined with a lack of exercise is a recipe for chubbiness. Consider:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of children and adolescents who are defined as overweight has more than doubled since the early 1970s.
Since 1979, according to a new CDC study, obesity-associated diseases such as diabetes nearly doubled from 0.18 percent to 0.59 percent; gallbladder diseases tripled from 0.18 percent to 0.59 percent; sleep apnea increased five-fold from 0.14 percent to 0.75 percent.
Tubbiness is also a leading contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease, one of our biggest killers.
What's worse is that the bigger Americans get, the more fodder nutty advocacy groups have in pushing their agenda. Groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest have been trying to scare the heck out of us for years. You've surely heard of CSPI. They said popcorn butter is more harmful to us than communism. They said deli food will make us look like Roseanne. They said creamy Italian dishes will plug up our insides like the Washington beltway at rush hour.
Such advocacy groups hate it that people make eating and drinking decisions for themselves. They're pushing for government regulations of all sorts. They're demanding that "sin" taxes be placed on Twinkies, for goodness sakes.
These clever nuts have paid close attention to the model used to attack the cigarette companies, don't you see. First, implement "sin" taxes on the product, then attack them with lawsuits even though every victim knew that smoking is addictive and bad for one's health. Then have the government sue, too, to win big settlements. If these advocacy folks get their way, we'll be paying $5.00 for every pack of chocolate Zingers, one of the finest products known to man (in moderation, of course).
Anyhow, because so many kids are getting so tubby, schools are beginning to write letters to parents, which is why we write now. This is a wake-up letter, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and here is the sorry fact: your kid is obese.
Your kid is big, billboard companies want to advertise on his clothing. When he walks down the street, according to Rodney Dangerfield, cops tell him to break it up. He's so big your bathtub has stretch marks.
So it's high time for you and the rest of America to take a better look at what you're eating and to get out there and start exercising. If you don't, America's health is going to get worse and everything is going to get more restrictive and expensive.
One last note: your son keeps ordering and eating pizza during history class, which is disruptive enough, but does he have to eat the box, too?
John P Doe III
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