|By Steve Dorfman, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.|
On the one hand, many of us are outraged every time we hear of a portly airplane passenger being forced to buy a second ticket in order to accommodate his or her girth.
On the other hand, we think nothing of holding up for ridicule public figures who are obviously losing their battle with the bulge. For instance, at last month's White House Correspondents Dinner, comedian
And then there was the inflammatory Newsweek cover a couple of weeks back featuring a baby holding a container of french fries with the accompanying tease reading: "When I Grow Up, I'm Going to Weigh 300 Lbs. Help!"
So, in order, the contradictory messages being sent are:
–Empathy ("It's OK to be overweight ")
–Scorn ("Ha, ha — you're fat!")
–Panic ("Oh, no — our kids will all be obese!")
No wonder we're all so neurotic about the topic.
Actually, we're justified in fearing how widespread (no pun intended) obesity has become among our populace.
This month, HBO, in conjunction with the
That's because, as the filmmakers so adroitly convey, obesity — and its numerous health and economic side effects — isn't just a matter of living with the consequences of personal choices. Rather, it is a national public-health issue that affects every one of us — regardless of what our own bathroom scales read.
According to the
Particularly worrisome is how ingrained the economic, environmental and public policy factors that have led to this state of affairs have become in our society.
To undo the decades of established infrastructure modes of producing and supplying food will require a mammoth financial commitment from both governments and private enterprise. Not to mention educating — or re-educating — a population that's largely ignorant about how to eat more healthfully.
To vastly oversimplify, filmmakers make the case that it's cheaper and easier for far too much of the country to produce, distribute and consume the kind of fare that leads to obesity.
And what kind of distressing trajectory has that set us on?
In the words of one of the documentary's experts, Dr.
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