food, the new opiate of the masses
January 30, 2008, 3:49 am
Filed under: fat, food

Why are we so fat as a nation?  There are a couple of reasons, two of the biggest (so to speak) are that we have lifestyles that include no exercise and that food is the cheapest entertainment going.  My lifestyle, like many Americans, includes no exercise as a means to anything other than exercise.  In other words, I can pull out of my garage, drive to work, drive to pick up the kids, pull back into my garage, and have had no other exercise than what it takes to walk inside whatever building I have parked outside of.  I can’t walk to the store, to the coffeeshop or to the park, I have to drive, unless I want to talk on a major road with cars whizzing by at 50+ miles an hour.  The only exercise I do is exercise for exercise’s sake–going to the gym, going for a bike ride or going for a walk–not to any particular destination or for any useful purpose other than exercise.  When physical activity is a means to an end–walking to work, walking to a store, walking to a friend’s house, it’s a more natural part of the day.  The times in my life when I have lived a less car-centric life, semester abroad in London, on a military base with no car in Korea, have been the times I’ve been the thinnest and probably the healthiest. 

The second reason why Americans are so fat is because food is cheap, plentiful, easy and fun.  No skillset required to participate.  For $5 I can get a fastfood burger, fries and drink.  This actvity is one we can all partake in, no matter what age, fitness level, education etc.  Any wonder that the poorer you are the fatter you might be?  What other entertainment is as cheap and easy as unhealthful food?  You can’t play a round of golf for $5!  Everyone talks about the French paradox–it’s more than a different way of eating, it’s a different way of living, it’s less driving and more walking, it’s more sidewalk cafes and less drive throughs.  We need to build communities that aren’t merely “bedroom communities” but ones where that are pleasant to walk and bike in, and that the walking and biking can be linked to everyday activities rather than just exercise for exercise’s sake.

I’m trying to think of a way out of this, I know there are places in the US where the walk/bike lifestyle is doable.  But the surburbs of Phoenix just ain’t one of them.


2 Comments so far
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I live in the Chicago suburbs and you would not dare build a new housing development in our area without a park and a bike/walking path. We have a 30+ mile bike path that goes along the Fox River through several communities. We are truly blessed. I inline skate in the warmer months and cross country skate in the winter.

We were made to move our bodies and to eat foods that make us healthy and not sick. Something happened along the way to pull us away from that. I believe that food is not the opiate of the people as much as it is the wrong kinds of food. Highly processed carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes are killing us. Check out my blog concerning ““A Short History Of White Bread” to get my point. Why does it seem to be harder to lose weight as we get older? We exercise and diet and it just doesn’t come off as easy as it did when we were young. Check out my blog on Why Diets Fail

Comment by Jeff Iversen

Thanks for your comment! I agree that it is the wrong kind of food that is making us sick. The wrong kind of food is the cheapest and easiest available though. And if you haven’t got a lot else to look forward to, fried chicken and french fries is at least enjoyable and affordable in the short term.

I would like to integrate the exercise into my daily life–instead of “running on a treadmill” both metaphorically and actually. Wish we had a bike path near us!

Comment by liberalfeministrant

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