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Last September in Sydney, Australia, the International Congress on Obesity met to discuss what was described as a looming obesity pandemic. Don’t panic, it’s not airborne, and to my knowledge there are no known ill effects from second-hand cheesecake.
According to folks at the ICO, there are now over a billion overweight people on the planet. The problem is reaching a degree where if we all simultaneously fall down in the shower, we’ll knock the earth out of its orbit. It’s that serious.
Remember the song “Feed the world?” We sure did heed that advice (I don’t know about you, but I do anything a pop star tells me). If this keeps up, a “Band-Aid” sequel, “All right already, stop feeding the world,” may be in order.
Many at the conference claimed that, for the first time in world history, there are more overweight human beings than undernourished. This seems to be causing a panic among cholesterol-phobes, but in the world of problems, I’d have hoped there were bigger things about which to panic. Terrorism? Phooey. Border security? Nuts. Iran with nukes? Dog piddle. Coco Puffs? Run for your lives!
But wait, you can’t have a ”looming dangerous health problem” without somebody wanting to start regulating everything with the exception of personal responsibility. The United States ranks very high in the rate of childhood obesity, so much so that some of our kids are developing orbiting moons. In many cases, the only exercise kids get is playing Wii. This leads to heart disease, diabetes, swatting at imaginary Hershey bars and many other ailments.
It turns out that stagnant, over-fed and under exercised children are at least in part the fault of… Kellogg Cereal.
Kellogg is the latest in a long line of companies being pulled over and ticketed for feeding by the Chow Police:
Kellogg Co., the world’s largest cereal maker, has agreed to raise the nutritional value of cereals and snacks it markets to children.
The Battle Creek, Mich., company avoided a lawsuit threatened by parents and nutrition advocacy groups worried about increasing child obesity.
Is this a victory for health? It is if you believe that the core reason Johnny can’t see his belt buckle anymore is Froot Loops. It is if you believe that the real reason an overweight child is suffering from toddler-onset diabetes is the existence of Twinkies. It is if you believe the real reason a 12-year-old’s arteries are already narrower than John Edwards odds of becoming the next president is Cap’n Crunch. It is if you believe that certain products are “marketed to children under 12″ and the child actually buys it without an adult bringing it home, giving them the money or ride to the store.
If these “concerned” parents and nutrition advocacy groups cared about the root of the problem, they’d forget about companies and threaten to sue neglectful parents for allowing their kids to shovel junk down their throats and then play XBox for 12 hours. The problem is all too often the parents are AWOL and couldn’t be found by the process server — either that or it’s quite difficult to convince a person to sue him or herself.
And if any of those “concerned” parents who threaten to sue companies that market high fat/sugar/cholesterol foods have kids who are obese, they need to stop looking at companies like Kellogg for the reason, and start looking in a mirror.
Let’s also not lie to everybody and tell them that the food is the sole reason that a single child legally qualifies as two dependents on our tax forms. In decades and centuries gone by, almost everybody’s mother and grandmother cooked with lard and bacon fat. The kids were also supervised and kept busy. Of course, this was all back when the idea of “personal responsibility” wasn’t on the verge of extinction.
This is a great opportunity for parents to act as role models and teach children about the importance of making good food choices and getting regular exercise, but instead we do what has become all-too-prevalent: Blame somebody else and threaten to sue them. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t blame the food for obesity just like I don’t blame bartenders for drunk drivers or cigarettes for emphysema.
What will happen after Kellogg implements these changes and kids are still obese diabetes risks? I’m getting my broker on the phone to start selling short on Fruit Roll-Ups and Happy Meals.
If we fail to address the real problem, our only hope of saving these kids will be to get them hooked on cigarettes so they can sue big tobacco in order to have enough money to pay for bypass surgery and insulin shots.