According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has “more than tripled in the past 30 years.” Today, nearly 20% of kids age 6-11 and 18% of aged 12-19 are obese. Not overweight, obese. According to Web MD, the cause of this crisis is a ” lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors.”
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend this is all true and that what we have here is a real crisis and not one manufactured by an overbearing government that always uses the word “crisis” as an excuse to grab more control over our lives — you know, for our own good.
The question now is, what do we do about it?
Knock yourself out perusing Al Gore’s invention, but it’s pretty obvious the so-called experts are targeting fast food. Heaven knows the White House is targeting food to the point that no less than Disney has agreed to take a number of measures, including the banning of junk food commercials.
I’m 46 years-old, just old enough to have avoided this “crisis,” and I’m convinced that the blaming of food is the very worst kind of scapegoating for one very simple reason: When I was growing up there was just as much junk food then as there is now. In fact, there was more junk food. A lot more.
Pre-1980, food didn’t come with a low-fat choice sitting next to it on the grocery store with that greenish label. Furthermore, oil cooked everything. Therefore movie popcorn tasted like movie popcorn, McDonald’s French fries tasted like McDonald’s French fries, and people regularly bought big tubs of Crisco.
In fact, unless you wanted to drink the awful-tasting Tab, there wasn’t even diet alternatives for soda in those days. Diet Coke didn’t hit store shelves until 1983.
Portions today are smaller, as well. A McDonald’s cheeseburger is probably half the size of what they were and every time I unwrap a Three Musketeers bar I feel violated. Those things used to be the size of a loaf of bread.
And let’s talk about bread. How many lunches did I have with real cheese and bologna slathered in real mayo between two slices of Wonder Bread washed down with real root beer all while inhaling my parents’ second-hand smoke?
My point, obviously, is that over the past 30 years, food has gotten infinitely more healthy while, according to the experts at least, our kids have not.
And yet, you can see the writing on the wall. Our government and the left are setting the fast food industry up in the exact same way it did tobacco. The way things are moving, class action suits and big fat government payouts are probably inevitable no matter how many apple slices ruin the Happy Meal.
But this attack on fast food is all a hustle, a lie, a con — nothing more than a power grab for our government and a money grab for bottom-feeding trial lawyers who stuff Democrat coffers.
No one ate more junk food than I did as a kid. I defy any 21st Century kid to intake more Twinkies, cheeseburgers, Oreo cookies, 16 ounce bottles of A&W root beer, and mock chicken legs than I did — more than any kid growing up in the seventies did.
My generation ate tons of junk food and we did so when junk food was really and truly junk food.
Food isn’t the culprit, but if you really care about these kids and really want to solve this problem, you’ll point your finger at the cause of this sudden upsurge in childhood obesity post-1980…
And that’s Hollywood.
What changed after 1980? It certainly wasn’t a surge in the availability of junk food. What changed, however, was the ready availability of Hollywood product. Cable television came of age, video games entered the home, and it would only be a few more years before we all owned VCRs. What plagues the post-1980 generation isn’t the Happy Meal — it’s MTV, the Disney Channel, the Internet, and the one thing I most certainly didn’t have as a kid: something to keep me hypnotized and occupied 24/7 without ever having to move a muscle.
My parents will back me up on this: you have never met a kid who loved television more than I did (and still do). When it was possible, I would sit there for hours on end inhaling potato chips, cream soda, and reruns of every lame sitcom ever produced.
But here’s the thing: that wasn’t always an option.
Eventually something stupid would come on television, and because we only had 5 channels instead of 500, we got bored. During summer vacation days, those five channels were all lame game shows, soap operas, and whatever that crap was they broadcast on PBS. And because we didn’t have a home video library and there was no Internet — we got bored sitting around inside. So…
And as a result, we enjoyed hours of exercise we most assuredly wouldn’t have had there been cable TV, video games, and the Internet to keep us couch-bound.
If junk food is responsible for blowing up our kids it’s only because Hollywood’s mind-numbing, non-stop, readily accessible, addicting and affordable product is EVERYWHERE keeping kids from burning off those junk food calories.
Bored kids hit the outdoors to run around and explore to not be bored anymore. What’s keeping them inside is a dealer named Tinseltown, and since we’ve become a society where personal responsibility no longer matters, I say let’s sue Hollywood — let’s file a class action suit.
If we’re going to demand McDonald’s make their food healthier and therefore not as good, we should demand the same from Hollywood. Blander programming that will force kids outside due to boredom.
If we’re going to ban Big Gulps and fast food in schools to force healthier choices on kids, we should do the same to MTV and the Disney Channel. During certain hours of the day, children’s programming shouldn’t be broadcast or available on the Internet. Web sites that keep kids inside should be forced to go dark during daylight hours when kids should be outside.
Video games, DVDs, and the like should be programmed so that they won’t play until after the streetlights come on.
If we’re going to empower the fascist left to solve the obesity problem, let’s at least empower them in the areas that will make an actual difference and help to solve the problem.
Disney is more than happy to kneel before the State and kill junk food advertising, but do they care enough to take their programming off the air until 7pm … you know, for the children?
Who’s with me?
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC