Column: Have compassion for America's weight problem
Fat, sugar and carbohydrates are the three emperors of the Evil Kingdom, trying to ruin the lives of innocent Americans. And according to a recent report published by the Gallup-Healthways Poll, a shocking two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese! This number has doubled in the past 20 years.
Blame it on all those fast food chains! Or maybe the mammoth portions we are given in restaurants. Could it be, that the size of our dinner plates have become larger (like our waistlines) and that is why we are eating more? Are we a nation addicted to junk food?
A man in Prescott emailed me to say the reason he is fat is because his wife cooks delicious high-calorie meals. In other words, she is killing him! Then a man in Prescott Valley emailed me to say he and his wife are both overweight because his wife rarely cooks since she started working and they "eat junk." Hmm ... so the wife's cooking - or not cooking - is to blame.
Since 1971 the average American has added over 750 calories a day to his or her diet! That's right, we have supersized ourselves into a Nation of Fatties! We have the best tasting food with the highest caloric count and the most choices of anywhere on the planet. And where has it gotten us? Into a Size Extra Large!
Doughnuts are deadly! French fries will cause cellulite! Stay away from iced tea or turn into a blimp! These were the messages of one dedicated (zealot) physician in Florida who had been trying to keep the good folks of Panama City thin and healthy. Evidently, any doctor who tries to stand in the way of a community and their doughnuts is going to get a pink slip. This is a cautionary tale.
The young doctor was only trying to set an example for healthy living. A former Army physician who served in Iraq, the six foot, 175-pound "role-model" for fitness was paid over $140,000 a year to run the state and county health department. Some people in high places (like the county commissioners who fired him) thought he was taking his "duties" a bit too far. Okay, so he hung up neon signs saying things like, "Sweet Tea is Liquid Sugar" and "Hamburgers = Spare Tires." Perhaps he annoyed a few too many "fat addicts."
The downfall of the good doctor was his rant on Dunkin' Donuts. As American as apple pie, it was more than the community could take when he started posting electronic signs on the health clinics saying, "America Dies on Dunkin." Hey, I take issue with that. Those cakey little wonders, with the frosty sweetness and pink sprinkles were made by angels. Jelly-filled miracles of round, powdered pleasures could not be the demons that this doctor was describing. Surely, one doughnut every now and then will not kill us.
Yes, Dear Readers, someone who was so passionate about healthy eating could not stop himself from his "mission," which was actually more like self-destruction. Not only couldn't he be persuaded to remove the offending signs, but he refused to allow doughnuts, desserts, confections or junk food to be eaten at any staff meetings. The poor guy became so obsessed that he would raid the employee refrigerators and throw away any unhealthy food!
It is reported that a fistfight occurred over a piece of cherry pie. People get a little cranky about their food. The doctor thought he was "bravely" educating people. I think he was a coward. Forget hanging neon signs up around town. Why not just talk to people? Because that takes real courage and the ability to communicate - telling patients things that they might not want to hear. In the process of being passionate (insulting) about his dietary concerns, he made the whole town fighting mad!
Yes, America has a weight problem. But perhaps tough messages need to be told in compassionate ways. And no neon sign is going to get people to stop eating! Last I heard, a patient at one of the clinics hung up a hand-painted sign that said, "Americans Are Free To Eat." Perhaps a sign of the times?
I have more to say on this topic, but I am getting ready to bake a peach coffee cake. Oops, no I meant to say I am making a fruit salad. Only healthy for me (wink). Until next week, consider the blessed freedom we have to dunk a doughnut ... or not.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at email@example.com.