Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nicholas Kristof recently dedicated a column to ripping the USA for being obese. Some choice lines:
....every year, the average American drinks 56 gallons of soda....Our fat is one of the most important public policy challenges we face....drives up insurance costs and erodes our economic competitiveness....we should ban sugary drinks from schools....we should curb advertising of sugary drinks....we should impose a tax on sugary drinks....An extra 100 calories a day....For America as a whole, that amounts to an extra 750,000 tons of fat per year — so maybe it isn't the seas that are rising, but America that is sinking.
Oh, where to begin. OK, first, in that latter statement, don't you just love his trivializing one problem (global warming) by jokingly comparing to another. Sigh. Yes, it's all true, we're too fat and something(s) should be done about it -- if not for any other reason than to be fair to smokers. They're taxed up the wazoo due to their contribution to our health care tab, so why shouldn't the same hold true for the obese? Their added burden to our collective health woes is just as costly in actual dollar terms, if not more so.

But the question must be asked: is this topic worthy of a NY Times columnist? Given the high-profile, valuable landscape afforded Times columnists, must it be wasted on scolding us for being too fat and consuming too much soda? I imagine somewhere in a small-town there's a columnist for a local paper who wished he/she wrote this column, and in that respect it would've been perfect. A light, somewhat whimsical piece that's mildly interesting but rings of the minor leagues, not majors.

My guess is Kristof enjoyed the bout of fame and TV appearances stemming from his pulled stunt of challenging Bill O'Reilly to visit Darfur. It was similarly light and not very serious -- but the vacuous TV land ate it up, and Kristof likely got bit by the look-at-me-Mom-and-Dad bug.

Watch for him to soon appear on same nightly "news" shows, blabbing on about fat America and how we must get up off our wide-load asses and demand change. Gads. Meanwhile, more serious and pressing problems go under-reported -- despite what BushCo claims.

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