Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2003 / 19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Tom Purcell

Purcell
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Hang in there, tubby America, your day in the sun will come

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Last week the obesity debate picked up again. Because so many Americans are overweight, some scientists, government leaders and advocacy groups say there is an obesity epidemic. They want obesity to be classified as a disease.

Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, after all, and these diseases do cost the country billions every year in medical costs. If obesity was classified a disease, you see, then insurance coverage would cover its treatment, which would prevent other diseases from occurring.

Well, other scientists, government leaders and advocacy groups had a hearty laugh at that one. Disease? Hey, cancer is a disease, but overeating? Don't most people become big one Snickers at a time?

What most interests me about this debate is how, in these highly sensitive times, obese people get so little sympathy and respect.

Take the airline situation a year and a half ago. Southwest Airlines demanded that larger passengers ("people of size") must purchase tickets for two seats instead of one. Their action was prompted by complaints by other passengers whose space was overwhelmed by large people sitting next to them.

Donate to JWR

The obesity advocates went berserk. They said morbidly obese people had bad genes. They said the airline's policy was outrageous, discriminatory and mean-spirited. They said it was proof that there is a prejudice and a stigma against people of size in America.

And they have a point.

How often do you see fat people portrayed well on television? In Seinfeld, Newman the tubby mailman is menacing and deceitful. In the Drew Carey Show, Mimi is obnoxious, loud and overbearing. Rosie, Roseanne and Oprah are the frequent butt of jokes due to their size. You can't joke about most anything or anybody these days, but fat folks are still fair game.

But with a good strategy, that could change.

Hey, it wasn't long ago that cigarette smokers were considered cool and debonair, whereas marijuana smokers were reviled. Now cigarette smokers are banished from homes and restaurants at the same time marijuana smokers are lauded as heroes.

It used to be that alcohol was considered bad for us, but now even the American Heart Association promotes moderate drinking. It used to be that people who drank too much simply couldn't hold their liquor, now we say they have a disease.

So, even in a country that idolizes the thin and the beautiful, it's just a matter of time before obesity is greeted with similar sympathy. To be sure, there is already some evidence that the transformation is occurring.

The American Obesity Association says more than 61% of Americans are overweight. Other studies suggest that three out of five Americans are obese. The more Americans become tubby, the more everyone will sympathize with people of size.

Just last year the Internal Revenue Service bowed to pressure by obesity groups and declared obesity a disease. Obesity treatment may not be covered by insurance policies, but it is now tax deductible.

Just last week an AP article described a host of large-people products: "Scales that go up to 1,000 lbs., steering wheels for drivers who can't fit behind standard wheels, a device to help people who can't bend over to put on their socks, and super-size towels."

A few months ago a story aired about a deceased woman who was so big her family members had to sit on her casket lid to get it to close. Thankfully the Goliath Casket company now offers a 52-inch-wide casket to accommodate such situations.

As for television, a new reality show introduces overweight brides who struggle to get themselves into shape for the big day. The show encourages sympathy for their plight, which is a turning point for women of size. Though there's a reason the bride is the first one to hit the buffet table at the wedding reception.

In any event, cheer up, tubby America. It's hard to keep up with which victims are in and which are out in these confusing times. But with a little luck and a lot of hard work, fat will become PHAT.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR Contributor Tom Purcell's column, by clicking here.

Up


11/07/03: Morale at Veterans' Day
10/31/03: The Big Picture
10/24/03: A sorry bunch
10/17/03: Conversation with a typical poll respondent?
10/10/03: Men and women and brains
10/03/03: Iraqi Pork
09/26/03: They would not leave
09/19/03: A radical idea
09/12/03: Food Guide Pyramid has a "stupidity factor"?
09/05/03: Flag waving and football cheering
08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't
08/25/03: Attack of the 'virus twits'
08/08/03: Why not have a whole slew of the world's dignitaries and leaders come by to visit you?
08/01/03: Do you really want to live until 500?
07/18/03: "Ain't-my-fault" lawsuits are becoming more creative
07/18/03: The real story never makes for good summertime drama in Washington
07/11/03: Government bureaucrats, not elected officials, are really the ones determining what people and organizations can and can't do
07/03/03: Overworked Americans
06/27/03: The Metrosexual Male
06/20/03: Crime Etiquette in Washington, D.C.
06/13/03: My Father, the Thief and the MGB
06/05/03: An Open Letter to Bill and Hillary
05/30/03: We are a busy people
05/23/03: Liar, Liar
05/16/03: Laffer all the way to the bank
05/09/03: My mother's house
05/02/03: Teaching the Iraqis how to protest
04/25/03: Iraqi TV
04/21/03: Explaining Democracy to the Iraqis
04/11/03: Major increases to the beer tax? That's a cheap shot right to the beer gut
04/04/03: War humor
03/31/03: Dolphins, PETA and the USA
03/21/03: Traffic Wars
03/14/03: Ronald Reagan's St. Patrick's Day
03/03/03: My Family's Tragic Secret: We're French
02/21/03: I'm worried about my people
02/14/03: George Washington Makeover
02/07/03: Making quiet sacrifices
01/24/03: "Gimme the, goo-goo, gah-gah, remote!"
01/21/03: "Misunderestimated"
01/10/03: Republican night life
01/06/03: Exercise pills
12/31/02: They provide unending joy to those who are wise enough to let them in
12/13/02: Hurried Man Syndrome
12/06/02: In DC, snowstorms have important ramifications --- or, at least, they should
11/26/02: Police advertising
11/15/02: An Interview with Osama
11/01/02: How to vote in America
10/25/02: On edge in Washington, D.C
10/11/02: Giving new meaning to "selling your body"
10/04/02: Bush's Angels
09/27/02: Conservatives, Liberals, Dick Armey and Barry Manilow
09/20/02: Are SUV drivers are the new GOPers?
09/13/02: Bubba is Dubya's man
09/06/02: The Freedom to Picnic
08/16/02: Ah, the $izzle of anti-terrorist pork
08/09/02: Vacationless prez and gutless Americans
07/26/02: Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions
07/15/02: Patriot food
06/28/02: Eavesdropping on a San Fran classroom
06/21/02: The crowded skies
06/14/02: Contemporary Father's Day: A conversation for the ages
06/07/02: Legal rights for animals?
05/19/02: Advice for prom goers this year: Hold onto your money
05/10/02: Don't take her for granted
05/03/02: Letter to the parents of a tubby teen
04/26/02: Zacarias Moussaoui gets expert legal advice

© 2002, Tom Purcell