Nov 122002
Authors: Ashley Wheeland

Facing the fat question

By Ashley Wheeland

Are we a fat nation?

Can it be true that nearly 38 million Americans are considered obese? Can it be true that it is estimated that 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese? Is it true that nearly 13 percent of American children are overweight? According to the U.S. Senate in discussions this past May, these statements are true.

However, we have the other side of the coin. It is estimated that 20 percent, one in five, college-aged women engage in some type of behavior that can be considered an eating disorder. And our university knows this. Just a few years ago the recreation center had a scale in the women’s dressing room. That scale disappeared.

So what does this trend tell us?

We are a society dictated by consumption. Everywhere you turn you see the need for junk food being advertised. Hershey’s for example is being criticized for its new advertisements, which present chocolate as the key to happiness. However, we could say the same about other corporation that targets the population promising rewards of happiness, tradition and love in their ads – McDonald’s comes to mind.

Even our public schools make these promises to children by serving them these foods that will lead to future obesity or anorexia. It is now a $750 million dollar industry. My high school served pizza from Dominoes and sandwiches from Subway. The school later started allowing Pepsi to advertise in the gymnasium. The final advertisement inundation of my school was putting company ads on the school buses. So students not only saw the advertisements around them, they virtually became them.

This move toward more and more consumption seems dangerous. Heart disease, which stems from obesity in many cases, is the number one killer in the United States. It is estimated that obesity kills 330,000 people per year.

The United States is truly a fat nation. When I came home from spending a semester abroad I was shocked at my country. I had forgotten the advertisements, I had forgotten the food portions, I had forgotten the trend to be overweight, and I had forgotten the hard choices Americans have to make to not fall into these traps.

It is virtually impossible to go to a grocery store and shop without buying some type of food that has preservatives and ingredients that are made with chemicals. After all, these ingredients increase shelf lives and make for bigger products. After you find healthy foods, it is hard to afford them. Only those people who have money, many of those selling the products that create obesity, can truly afford not to buy these products.

How do we stop the fat (and skinny) trend? This is a problem that needs more than discussion. The American culture needs help. Many of us are sick. We have been trained to hate ourselves, unless we consume. And if we consume too much, we are trained to hate ourselves even more. So leading us out of this hate should be the goal.

I would suggest by starting to say no to those foods and advertisements and realizing that there are ways to eat and be healthy. I would say that children should be shown what foods are good for them, rather than being immediately sold what is bad for them.

Second, I would say looking at you, and evaluating who you really are and who you want to be. By saying no to products that are bad for you, you can influence your own health and the profit of corporations that have chosen to make these products. Do you want to be a fat American (which anyone, fat or skinny, can be), or do you want to be a happy American?

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