Wednesday, December 19, 2012

OBESITY AND DEMOCRACY


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Americans are becoming alarmingly fat. According to a recent Foundation report, “If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030 thirteen states could have adult obesity rates above sixty percent, and all fifty states could have rates above forty-four percent.”

Depending on who’s holding forth, obesification results from lack of exercise, passive indoor entertainment, child safety issues, processed foods, and more meals eaten out. Arguments aplenty concern sugar, fats, high-fructose corn syrup, and a slew of additives. The item seldom discussed yet actually at the bottom of our most difficult issues, is: us.

It’s as though our lifestyle, whatever it may be, was handed to us by some authority that forces us to flop onto the couch for another boob-tube dose, gobble junk foods, ignore grocery labels—in sum, abdicate control of our lives. 

That is, we’ve become a passive people. We accept the label “consumer” not only in commerce, but across the board. Healthcare has come to be a transaction between a “consumer” and a “provider.” While a huge majority of us, if asked, think our endless wars--currently against terrorists, cancer, and drugs--are unproductive at best, somehow they continue anyway. While lunatics are gunning down people by the score, we respond by simply ducking.

If we’re going to get back into shape—in our bodies and in our nation—we’ll need to seriously review the life choices we make from moment to moment. There can be no democracy without active, informed participation. What will it take for us to wake up?

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