Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fat Country

Michael Rosenwald from the Post writes about how economics and technology have made us a fat nation. He says it's a tradeoff we pay for living in our society with modern conveniences and jobs where we don't have to sweat for ten hours a day.

In some ways, we are better off in this Fat Economy. Many people work in easier, better-paying jobs, which help pay for their big homes in the suburbs. Women don't have to spend two hours preparing dinner every night; many have risen to unprecedented levels of corporate and political power. Flat-panel plasma TVs hang over fireplaces, which can be lit using the same remote control for flipping channels. But the unintended consequence of these economic changes is that many of us have become fat. An efficient economy produces sluggish, inefficient bodies.

Overweight himself, he does point out the various health problems that come with obesity. Nevertheless, the general tone of the article is that our fatness is the inevitable price we pay for our modern lifestyles. I'm not so convinced. I know it's naive to idolize the "good ole days", but I do believe that we have other problems besides just obesity health-related ones. And even that alone is no fun. I found having 40-50 pounds of pregancy fat just miserable. It really opened my eyes to how uncomfortable it is to be overweight. At that time, I would have gladly changed places with a thin person from the 1940s. So I'm not sure if our current society is a clear winner over the old days - if you are heavy.

Before World War II, if you wanted a french fry, you went to the store, bought potatoes, took them home, washed them, peeled them, sliced them and fried them.

Who is going to go to all of that trouble now on a regular basis? But maybe we should. One of my weaknesses is desserts. So I have an unofficial rule for myself (which can be broken from time to time): if I want sweets I have to make them from scratch. This has stopped me many times from buying junk at the store. Half the time I'm too lazy to make anything. Also, I have developed a taste for only quality, home-baked goods. Thus, when at a party or near a vending machine, I am rarely interested in eating cheap cookies or brownies from a mix. It saves a lot of calories.

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