We moderns are terrifically good at inventing things: the ballpoint
pen, automobile, microwave, H-bomb, microprocessor, space shuttle and
the idea that Al Gore is some sort of ecological expert. In addition,
we’re good at inventing sin, and believe it or not, we’ve got a brand
new naughty to add to the “Thou shalt not” laundry list.
You can almost see an official spokesman for the Center for Disease
Control coming down from the mountain with stone tablets detailing the
all-new-and-improved transgressions and iniquities. Especially
prominent is the newly established 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not
consume undesirable foodstuffs.”
The biblical imagery is well suited. Just like a holy, righteous God
approaching his people with all their loathsome sin, the
fitter-than-thou dieticians look out and see us, a teeming crowd of
chunk-thighed, beer-bellied, hog-jowled fatty pants. Gobs of lard fall
over our belt lines. Stuffing pounds of lumpy cellulite into a pair of
trousers is what we call getting dressed in the morning.
According to a Sept. 16, 1999, Knight Ridder
report, some 50 percent
of American adults (about 97 million) are stressing their bathroom
scales more than they should. Of those 97 million, some 39 million are
given the moniker, “obese.” And it’s not just the fogeys and
beer-huffing baby boomers sporting the less than stylish paunch these
days. With all of the neighborhood kids rubbing blisters on their
eyeballs from sit-and-stare diversions like TV and video games, some 20
percent of younkers are working on growing out as well as up.
I don’t think it’s much of a mystery where Peter Paul Rubens got the
models for all those chunky women he painted.
Health experts are not so happy about this. At a Fat Summit in
Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 1999, Surgeon General David Satcher noted
that “Obesity is a major public health problem in this country and one
that deserves much more attention than it receives.” If the attendees
of the summit have anything to do with the matter, that will change.
Given their vision of increased government involvement in the Fat War,
if they get their way, the state will soon have us all by the love
Like Moses giving the children of Israel their dietary laws, the
modern health experts with all their Levitical authority are in the
business of proscribing the proper provision for our palates. As they
see it, however, in addition to pigs and oysters being “unclean,” now
Twinkies, doughnuts, and cheese are not so kosher — in fact, they’re
“toxic,” to use Yale psychology professor Kelly Brownell’s word.
Brownell charges that we live in a “toxic food environment” and
recommends taxing fatty foods and spending the proceeds on
nutrition-related education programs to solve the problem. And Brownell
doesn’t stand alone in the supermarket health food aisle on this one
For the shindig at which Satcher spoke, obesity poobahs and fat
experts converged on D.C. like a Bill Clinton jogging retinue on a
McDonald’s restaurant. And mainly they met to say bad things about
McDonald’s — or at least what its type of food does to people’s dress
Solutions galore for America’s national weight overage were bandied
about by the fat summiteers — among them: shelling out more money to
research causes of obesity and lengthening the school day so kiddies get
more exercise. Possible magic bullets also included talk of expanded
insurance coverage for weight loss treatments and a “fat tax” —
basically a flat tax for your tummy instead of your rate.
Taking a hint from all the hullabaloo over tobacco, some fat warriors
also advocate the regulation of junk-food advertising. I suppose, as Joe
Camel goes, so goes Chester Cheetah, cartoon mascot for fat-laden
Cheetos. The Trix Rabbit and Tony the Tiger may also find themselves in
the unemployment line, as sugar-heavy cereals are considered bad-news
The idea is not a new one. In June of 1975, the U.S. Public Health
Service proposed “strong regulations to control the advertisement of
food products, especially those of high sugar content or little
nutritional value.” Indeed, as Business Week Online reports, today’s
kids see some 10,000 ads each year and nearly all of them are for junk
food and cereals jam-packed with very few vitamins and minerals and
about enough sugar to preserve them until the dawning of the next age.
You don’t have to be a sage or prophet or marketing major to see how
this will shake down. Ten years from now, spokesmen from Nabisco,
Frito-Lay, McDonald’s and Hershey are all going to be testifying in
congressional hearings, “No, we did not know that fat was addictive.
No, we did not deliberately manipulate the fat levels to hook unwary
consumers on our products.” And then 10 years later, Congress and the
“fat industry” will reach an “Historic Fat Accord,” like the one reached
Meanwhile, fatty food stigma will increase and those who consume such
substances will be out-grouped and socially ostracized. No longer will
people be permitted to eat hamburgers in the employee lunchroom. The
EPA may even come out with a dubious, but well-reported, second-hand fat
study. “A new report by the federal EPA,” Dan Rather will begin, “says
that the fat which drips from a fryer is 10 times more lethal than food
cooked in the same fat.” Burger King employees will start making huge,
class action lawsuits.
The early signs already mirror the innocuous beginnings of the
anti-tobacco crusades. As Charles Oliver reported for Reason, a man in
Washington state is suing Safeway and the Dairy Farmers of Washington,
claiming that drinking milk since his childhood contributed to his
clogged arteries and a minor stroke he suffered back in 1994.
The new Health McCarthyism is here, and the reds under scrutiny are
the steaks of fat-marbled red meat at the local supermarket. Without
looking too hard, I can see the makings of a black market in butter.
Gone are the days when a super-sized serving of fries was a viable snack
option. In fact, gone are our potato salad days, period. Gone is the
mayo, the bacon, the biscuits and gravy. Gone is the Velveeta, the
potato chip, the cookie. Say farewell to flavor … and hello to oat
Of course it’s for our own good. Like the Law of the Old Testament,
the 11th Commandment is given so that we might know the errors of our
nutritional ways and repent of our lust for fatty foods and verboten
vittles. But unlike the prophets of old, however, when the Diet
Messiahs beckon, “Come, ye burdened and heavy-laden,” they aren’t
talking about our transgressions and alienation from God, inviting us to
repent and be saved. They are only pointing to all of the bathroom
scales reading, “Tilt.”
Joel Miller is the Assistant Editor
of WorldNetDaily and is almost skinny (though he does have to watch the
Breyers and beer).