Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Alabama is #1 in a Venti Society

Alabama is the fattest state in the union. 28.4% of Alabama's residents are overweight according to one study. Taking it in stride, the state that houses the headquarters for Southern Living claims that food must be better here. Um, okay. The Vodka is better in Russia and the marijuana is fresher (or greener, I wouldn't know) in Mexico, so when in Rome...

People take so little responsibility for the problem that we can't expect anything other than labeling obesity as a disease rather than a lack of self-control. Our "Biggie" society offers more and bigger of everything. Why get a 12-oz cola when you can buy a 32-oz for 20 cents more?? Why buy a tall (small) latte when you can get a venti (large) latte? Do people realize how much milk is in a latte?

Who is to blame? Everyone. I'm certainly against any notion that people should be able to bring lawsuits against fast food or anyone else. You buy it and eat it. They advertise it. We're all in this together.

On the flip side, we shouldn't make obesity a crime. Our society has already made smokers to be the most vile of people. What's next? Are we going to make overweight people sit in their own section in the restaurant? There's morally wrong with being overweight. (Note, I didn't say there's nothing wrong with indulging oneself.) The fact that Alabama is #1 in percentage of overweight citizens means that Alabama will have to deal with the health risks in the years to come. Alabama's healthcare system will have to meet these needs at a higher rate than others around the country. Alabama's insurers will foot the bill as well as anyone who is privileged to pay taxes.

Living in Birmingham, there is noticeably less opportunity to exercise outdoors than in other cities. Having moved from Louisville, the city parks of Louisville are tremendously better than those of Birmingham. Cities need to plan for such things, because the discipline of exercise is hard enough when the opportunity is near and easy. When it is hardly available, don't expect the population to go too far out of their way.

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