Americans have some important decisions to ponder this summer: Should they “marry” bacon, or be content to sprinkle it atop a swirled, fat-sodden sundae?
Ideally, the best decisions would center on a new commitment to healthy diets and lifestyle. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, according to an unending torrent of data chronicling the expanding girth of a nation.
The latest unnerving study projects 42 percent of Americans may be obese by 2030, compared with 36 percent in 2010. That outrageous figure actually represents a slight leveling off, or perhaps the laws of biology and physics pushing back at high rates of personal inflation.
A USA Today report provides some context: “The obesity rate was relatively stable in the USA from 1960 to 1980, when about 15 percent of people fell into that category. It increased dramatically in the ’80s and ’90s and was up to 32 percent in 2000, according to CDC data.”
The inexorable passion to consume mountains of food is now deeply rooted in the culture. Making informed decisions about diet, based on knowledge rather than cravings, seems vaguely subversive. Eating right is like going rogue, living off the grid.
Even the littlest consumers get much of their health information from television’s most visible dietitians: Jack, Carl, Ronald, Wendy and friends. Under the influence of these happy chefs, the food pyramid has become more of a trough, with salt, sugar and saturated fat as the key food groups.
Creative marketing campaigns enable the national feeding frenzy. Burger King’s promise of a summertime bacon sundae, crowned with an actual strip, seems almost tepid in light of the recent Jack in the Box ad blitz that challenged customers to make the ultimate commitment, and marry a slice of sizzling pork. A special Web site even provided portly fans the opportunity to upload photos and imagine what their pan-sired offspring might look like.
Yes, it’s the kind of thing Gibbon would have devoted a volume to, if ancient Romans had expanded their physical borders with Six Dollar Burgers rather than Caesar’s legions.
Calculate the costs and dimensions of the obesity pandemic here: