Random thoughts about roadside art, National Parks, historic preservation, philosophy of technology, and whatever else happens to cross my mind.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Television surprised me today. Usually C-SPAN has me ranting about tinfoil and hurling epithets at the screen. This morning it was Charles Osgood and CBS Sunday Morning. Charles Osgood! The man is normally valium in human form. I switched channels to avoid listening to Newt Gingrich engage in his usual revisionism and self-serving smarminess on C-SPAN and got treated to ~90 minutes of obsessing about the nonexistent obesity epidemic and Death Fat on CBS. Apparently all our health care cost concerns will be resolved if we can just get all the fatties in this country to drop a few pounds. The fact that diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are chronic conditions associated almost as much with old age as with they are with obesity is apparently irrelevent -- live long enough, and odds are that you'll develop Type II diabetes or hypertension even if you're built like Callista Flockhart, but that gets conveniently forgotten when people are looking for simplistic answers. Or, even better, convenient scapegoats that can function as distractions from the real problems.
Like poverty. The thing that absolutely infuriated me the most was not one of the segments bothered to explore the relationships between poverty and diet. Osgood put up a map showing the areas where the Death Fat is the deepest: the three "fattest" states in the country are Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia. You don't have to be a sociologist to recognize what else those states have in common: poverty. When you're poor, you're shopping at Aldi, not Whole Foods, and you're planning meals around your USDA commodities (macaroni, cornmeal, "processed cheese food"). I see people at Kroger buying Top Ramen by the case -- I don't think they're getting it because they love the taste so much. They're getting all those noodles because they're cheap.
CBS managed to hit all the other clueless bases, too, when it comes to weight and health -- genetics got short shrift, there was the usual lame "exercise more, eat less" mantra accompanied by the assumption that anyone who is bigger than a size 0 is living on Big Macs and super-sized fries, the tacit assumption that being thin automatically means a person is both healthy and eating right, bariatric surgery was presented with no mention of possible side effects (nonstop diarrhea, vitamin deficiencies, assorted infections), etc. -- but putting up that map with no discussion of what might be causing the higher rates in some geographic areas than in others definitely annoyed me the most.