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letheomaniac
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Americans "too fat to fight"
« on: 2009-11-07 03:26:08 »
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[letheomaniac] The ever-expanding waistline of the Empire.

Source: Counterpunch
Author: Alexander Cockburn
Dated: 6/11/09

Too Fat to Fight

If Jonathan Swift traveled to the United States today, he would surely ditch the little guys, the big guys and the horses and just feature Gulliver being squashed flat by enormously fat people.

I drive across the US every year and I can report that there’s been a significant upswing in the blubbergraph. In  early October (in a 1990 Dodge 250 with five-speed and a Cummins engine)  I  drove east to west across America along Interstate 40 – much of the western portion is the old Route 66, famed in song and story --  which runs from Asheville, NC, to Nashville, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque and on through Arizona into California.

Every truck stop, every diner, every mall  offered its tumid diorama of  human hippos. We’re talking every age group here – starting with humpty-dumpty adolescents and ascending through the decades to 50-year olds, gigantic, stertorous and grey of countenance.  My friend Wilbur who runs a trailer park in South Carolina told me there’s a woman in one of his double-wides who’s up around 400 pounds and can’t get through the door even if she wanted to. She sits and watches tv all day and when she passes, Wilbur will have to get a giant can opener to rip open the side of the trailer to winch out her remains.

In Eureka, my local town here in northern California, a couple of years ago  they had to get new scales in the clinics and bigger MRI tubes. The Pentagon could probably make a buck or two for the taxpayer, selling torpedo launchers from decommissioned submarines for MRI conversion. It’s not quite what the swords-into-plowshares movement had in mind, but that’s America for you.

And it is America. I was just in Paris and in the course of a week Alya and I saw precisely one person – a young woman – who could be classed by a European as very plump. In America she’d be still dreaming of going to ballet school.

Of course there’s a lobby that says it’s all prejudice by the slim crowd, and fat people are perfectly normal – just a bit heftier. Websites devoted to this posture prate on unpersuasively about natural heftiness and the vile slurs of the diet industry. You read a lot about fat women being sexy, though not much about the kindred allurements of fat men – a discrimination  Titian and Rubens divined centuries ago. I remember picking up a magazine in the lefty book store in Pike Place, Seattle, a few years back called Fat Dykes and the Women Who Love Them and it’s true, on my observation, that a very fat Lesbian will not pine away for lack of slim young baby-dyke admirers of her inviting corpulence.

In this lobby’s tactful  thesaurus,  “fat” is the unusable f-word, and the last-resort term, “heavy”.  But the fat people I see across America don’t seem happy. Mostly they look beleaguered and sad as they chug on their carts down supermarket aisles pulling fat-enhancers off the shelves.  An 18-year old young woman waddling along, soda in one hand and a bag of cheetos in the other, would be cheerier if she was downsized by 50 per cent. The diabetics on their go-karts look absolutely wretched.

How did it happen?

Blame the obvious suspects: the fast food chains and the food industry whose chemists figure out the precise mixes of sugar and salt which will addict their customers.

Blame the decline of physical education in schools. Blame couches and tv sets. Blame the shriveled vistas of opportunity, the shrunken possibilities of political change, well understood by poor people, particularly the young.

Blame restaurants for serving monster portions. In Seligman, Arizona, I had breakfast in Westside Lilo’s Café and the huge elk-hunter draped in camo next to me at the counter devoured a breakfast that entirely covered a large dinner plate to a height of about four inches. Outside was his mighty one-ton truck with chromed shock absorbers gleaming in the morning sun, in which he would spend the next eight hours wolfing down chips and swigging diet Cokes.

Ten years ago you could go to a national park and encounter plenty of people hiking in the more remote portions. These days you’ll see no one off the major trails and most of the visitors having a brief amble near the parking lots. The black bears in Yosemite recently voted – we’re talking statistical levels of bear-break-ins here -- the minivan their car of the year to break into because it’s what many Americans haul their kids around in, and the vehicles are full potato chips and kindred snacks the bears have learned to enjoy.

The Pentagon is getting alarmed. The good news for the Armed Forces has been the surge in unemployment.  In her piece on this site last week, Susan Galleymore quoted Curtis Gilroy, a senior Pentagon official, as saying  recently that  a 10 percent increase in the national unemployment rate generally translates into a 4 per cent to 6 per cent “improvement in high-quality Army enlistments.” For the first time since the creation of all-volunteer  armed forces in 1973, according to Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary for defense for military personnel policy, “all of the military components, active and reserve, met their number as well as their quality goals.”

In other words, the lack of jobs in the civilian sector, means no option for many young Americans other than enlistment.

The bad news for the Pentagon is that many would be enlistees are not “high quality” and have to be turned down because they are too fat.

The Army Times ran an article this last week by William McMichael  citing the latest government stats on America’s fat crisis. One third of the 31 million Americans between 17 and 24 are unqualified for military service because of “physical and medical issues”. Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon’s director of accessions, told the Army Times that “the major component of this is obesity. We have an obesity crisis in the country. There’s no question about it.”

The Pentagon gets its data from the US government’s Centers for Disease Control. The CDC says that 22 years ago 6 per cent of all 18-34 year olds were obese. By 2008 that number had swelled to 23 per cent – one out of four.

In 1987, according to the CDC, about 1 out of 20 18-to 34-year-olds, were obese. In 2008, 22 years later, almost 1 out of 4 — was considered to be obese.

“Kids are just not able to do push-ups,” says Gilroy. “And they can’t do pull-ups. And they can’t run.”

Increasingly, young Americans are getting too fat to fight,
which is just as well – because the antiwar movement is in terrible shape, probably because yesterday’s peace marchers are all too busy on weekends jogging, careening along on their bikes or going to yoga classes.

The Pentagon now issues waivers for at least the semi-obese, no doubt reckoning that Spartan training will slim them down enough to be capable of some sort of useful military activity, though not running up and down mountains in the Hindu Kush.

Michele and Barack Obama have been making rather sotto voce remarks about America’s appalling diet and ensuing weight problems, albeit tactfully since the Fat Vote is in the millions and the Food Industry’s political purse is bulky too.

But how does Michele’s organic vegetable garden weigh against Obama’s pick as Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack – a wholly-owned property of the food corporations?

Hence we get the tragic comic spectacle of a  political battle over a health “reform” bill which may make it easier for poor Americans to cover the costs of treatment for Type 2 diabetes and the health consequences of consuming prodigious amounts of high-fructose corn syrup. Meanwhile there is no effective political opposition to federal subsidies for the farm policies which have fattened America into macabre absurdity.  Cigarettes and booze – both the targets of ferocious public service campaigns --  lag far behind obesity in economic consequence: Roland Storm in one study reported that obesity is “associated with 36 per cent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 77 percent increase in medications, compared with a 21 per cent increase in inpatient and outpatient spending and a 28 per cent increase in medications for current smokers and smaller effects for problem drinkers.

Though the theory has been downgraded, we used to learn in school that the Roman Empire collapsed because of lead pipes. (Actually the lead-pipe menace was well known by the time of Augustus, though lead lined cook pots probably did wreak a dire toll.) Half a millennium after the final overthrow  of the Roman Empire by the diet-conscious Ottomans, the American Empire is distended in a vast acreage of fatty tissue, its recruits too vast to fit into the most forgiving uniforms, the job of fighting given perforce to drones dispatched by chair-bound warriors 7,000 miles from the battlefield, but half a block from McDonalds, Carls Jr and the other Enemies Within.

Footnote:. From the UK, Peter Simmons comments: “But it's really not such a recent development; in the sixties I bought a consignment of used denim jeans from the US, planning to repair and recycle them (this was before the days when jeans came pre-stressed and pre-faded) but when I investigated I found that they were all massive, typically, two Brits could get into one pair of American jeans, some were so large we thought they had to be joke clothing for a circus or something. [letheomaniac] There was a second hand clothing store a few blocks away from my high school that provided this very same mind-blowing shopping experience. Never before had I seen a pair of pants that were wider than they were long! We called them "clown pants" too. We used the massive expanses of denim to make lots of different items; bags, floor cushions, sofa covers... I guess what's new is that it's spread to the majority of the population now. Cheech and Chong had a word for them, lardasses.
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Blunderov
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Re:Americans "too fat to fight"
« Reply #1 on: 2009-11-07 10:04:52 »
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[Blunderov] The perfect US army recruitment corps motivational poster?





Creaming Jesus ~ "Too fat to run, too stupid to hide"

From: http://www.thespacebar.co.uk/ebayscans/74614.jpg

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creaming_Jesus
« Last Edit: 2009-11-07 10:11:14 by Blunderov » Report to moderator   Logged
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Re:Americans "too fat to fight"
« Reply #2 on: 2009-11-07 14:09:23 »
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There is yet another dimension to this rotund stature issue in North America.

As Fritz eyes the chocolate almond ring on the kitchen counter that has been beckoning to him ....

Cheers

Frtiz


Depression link to processed food

Source: BBC News
Author: n/a
Date: Monday, 2 November 2009

' The UK population is consuming less nutritious, fresh produce and more saturated fats and sugars"
Dr Andrew McCulloch, Mental Health Foundation

Eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression, research suggests.

What is more, people who ate plenty of vegetables, fruit and fish actually had a lower risk of depression, the University College London team found.

Data on diet among 3,500 middle-aged civil servants was compared with depression five years later, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported.

The team said the study was the first to look at the UK diet and depression.

They split the participants into two types of diet - those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.

After accounting for factors such as gender, age, education, physical activity, smoking habits and chronic diseases, they found a significant difference in future depression risk with the different diets.

Those who ate the most whole foods had a 26% lower risk of future depression than those who at the least whole foods.

By contrast people with a diet high in processed food had a 58% higher risk of depression than those who ate very few processed foods.

Mediterranean diet

Although the researchers cannot totally rule out the possibility that people with depression may eat a less healthy diet they believe it is unlikely to be the reason for the findings because there was no association with diet and previous diagnosis of depression.

Study author Dr Archana Singh-Manoux pointed out there is a chance the finding could be explained by a lifestyle factor they had not accounted for.

"There was a paper showing a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of depression but the problem with that is if you live in Britain the likelihood of you eating a Mediterranean diet is not very high.

"So we wanted to look at bit differently at the link between diet and mental health."

It is not yet clear why some foods may protect against or increase the risk of depression but scientists think there may be a link with inflammation as with conditions such as heart disease.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "This study adds to an existing body of solid research that shows the strong links between what we eat and our mental health.

"Major studies like this are crucial because they hold the key to us better understanding mental illness."

He added people's diets were becoming increasingly unhealthy.

"The UK population is consuming less nutritious, fresh produce and more saturated fats and sugars.

"We are particularly concerned about those who cannot access fresh produce easily or live in areas where there are a high number of fast food restaurants and takeaways."

Margaret Edwards, head of strategy at the mental health charity SANE, said: "Physical and mental health are closely related, so we should not be too surprised by these results, but we hope there will be further research which may help us to understand more fully the relationship between diet and mental health."
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Re:Americans "too fat to fight"
« Reply #3 on: 2009-11-09 07:23:14 »
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[letheomaniac] Awesome pic Blunderov!
Fritz:
Quote:
Eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression, research suggests.
[letheomaniac]And once depressed, many people "self-medicate" their depression with more food. A *groan* "feedback loop" if you will.
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Re:Americans "too fat to fight"
« Reply #4 on: 2009-11-09 08:46:41 »
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Quote:
[letheomaniac]And once depressed, many people "self-medicate" their depression with more food. A *groan* "feedback loop" if you will.

I have been noodling with the GI Diet, with some success. I certainly note the change between good and bad carbs. Physical activity I noted was the other win win for me.

Cheers

Fritz


http://www.weightlossforall.com/glycemic-index-diet.htm

Glycemic Index Diet

The glycemic index diet or G.I. diet is gaining a reputation as a healthy way to lose weight. Although more of a way of eating rather than a diet, more and more people following the G. I way achieve their weight loss goals. Many health experts agree that the Glycemic Index diet, if followed correctly, can be a great way to weight loss success, especially for those who struggle with conventional low calorie diets or dieters who have trouble controlling their appetite. <snip>


http://www.carbohydrateaddicts.com/cadfnd.html

Car-bo-hy-drate Ad-dic-tion:

    * A compelling hunger, craving, or desire for carbohydrate-rich foods;
      an escalating, recurring need or drive for starches, snack foods, junk food, or sweets.
    * Carbohydrate-rich foods include, but are not limited to: breads, bagels, cakes, cereal, chocolate, cookies, crackers, danish, fruit and fruit juice, ice cream, potato chips, pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pie, popcorn, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
    * In addition, carbohydrate act-alikes (sugar substitutes, alcoholic beverages, and monosodium glutamate) may trigger intense or recurring carbohydrate cravings and/or weight gain.

As many as seventy-five percent of those who are overweight, and many normal-weight individuals as well, are carbohydrate addicted. Though many people may suspect there is a physical imbalance that makes them crave carbohydrates and put weight on easily, the underlying cause of their cravings and weight struggles often goes undiagnosed and untreated.<snip>

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letheomaniac
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Re:Americans "too fat to fight"
« Reply #5 on: 2009-11-09 09:38:18 »
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Fritz:
Quote:
I have been noodling with the GI Diet, with some success. I certainly note the change between good and bad carbs. Physical activity I noted was the other win win for me.
[letheomaniac]I find it a good rule of thumb to avoid anything that has been highly refined like white flour, white rice etc. I also avoid soft drinks/beer/anything with excessive quantities of sugar as much as is possible. Fortunately for me, I rarely crave starchy things - protein is my poison!
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