Deadline Now: Our Nation's Obesity Crisis
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Deadline Now: Our Nation's Obesity Crisis

Friday, July 8, 2011

Obesity rates are climbing at alarming numbers in the United States. Besides harming one's health, obesity affects virtually all aspects of our society and economy.

Lucas County Health Commissioner Dr. David Grossman and Stephanie Cihon, leader of ProMedica's obesity prevention initiative and hunger free community project, are Jack Lessenberry's guests this week.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:

There are some issues people get too worked up about. But I don’t think we are worried enough about the obesity epidemic, especially among children. A few years ago, I was doing a project on something that happened in Detroit during World War II.
As I looked at photographs and newsreel footage, it struck me that the people were different somehow, in ways that had nothing to do with their clothing. Suddenly, it struck me.
 They were almost all thin. Incidentally, I was considered a fat kid, and didn‘t grow out of it till I went away to college. But by today‘s standards, at my worst I would have been fairly unremarkable.
The degree of obesity among children today is something close to horrifying. Last weekend, I ran into a grocery store, and virtually every person in the store was heavily overweight.
Now, if you think that I could stand to drop ten pounds out of my middle, you are right. But I am middle-aged, and I am talking about young people, even pre-teens, who were fifty or seventy or maybe even a hundred pounds overweight.
 Our guests tonight know far more about why this has happened than I do. I think that junk food and video games have something to do with it. But I do know we as a society aren’t doing nearly enough about it. The fact that soda pop is sold in vending machines in elementary and high schools is outrageous for many reasons. Not only does this promote obesity, it makes no sense from a nutritional or dental standpoint. The recession has had an effect, too.
As George Orwell wrote back in the 1930s, those who aren’t well off are less able and have less psychological incentive to prepare nutritious meals. It is possible to misuse statistics.
But you can easily read, online, the federal Centers for Disease Control’s detailed figures for the obesity epidemic. There is clear evidence that things have continued to get worse at a frightening rate. If this doesn’t change soon, there is ample evidence that obesity could be a far greater threat to our collective health, prosperity and security that al-Qaeda ever could be.