|Man Without Qualities|
Friday, October 10, 2003
Why are Americans so fat? The New York Times runs an article with a surprisingly frank conclusion: PEOPLE ARE TOO FAT BECAUSE FOOD IS TOO CHEAP.
Or, as the Times puts it:
You hear several explanations. Big food companies are pushing supersize portions of unhealthful foods on us and our children. We have devolved into a torpid nation of couch potatoes. The family dinner has succumbed to the fast-food outlet. All these explanations are true, as far as they go. But it pays to go a little further, to look for the cause behind the causes. Which, very simply, is this: when food is abundant and cheap, people will eat more of it and get fat.
The Times article - of which I am more than a little bit skeptical, for what that's worth - goes on to compare food today with alcohol in the early 1800's, when, apparently, Americans were as much regular topers as they are regular fatties today. The implication seems to be that by cranking up the price and taxes on alcoholic beverages, America brought the problem under the degree of control we now have.
But Congress and the society as a whole keeps pushing cheaper food. The result of such cheap food? The Times says:
Three of every five Americans are now overweight, and some researchers predict that today's children will be the first generation of Americans whose life expectancy will actually be shorter than that of their parents.
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