America: Don#039;t blame the Big Mac

by Beacon Staff • January 31, 2007

Not just portly, big-boned, large-framed, husky, solid or rotund. This isn't winter weight. It isn't baby fat. Let's face it: we have a weight problem. And until we collectively face up to it, that amount of people-and waistlines-will keep growing.,Americans have gotten fat.

Not just portly, big-boned, large-framed, husky, solid or rotund. This isn't winter weight. It isn't baby fat. Let's face it: we have a weight problem. And until we collectively face up to it, that amount of people-and waistlines-will keep growing.

Obesity, like any other problem people deal with-a bad temper, personal debt, selfishness-can be rationalized and explained away, or it can be recognized and attacked at its root. It is completely pervasive in our culture. Sixty-three percent of adults in the United States are overweight.

This is not only an issue of genetics or slow metabolism. Sure, some people do have slower metabolism and overweight families, but one shouldn't expect their metabolism to speed itself up without exercise, or to stay thin while eating tons of fast food.

Obesity is the result of bad habits and behaviors and if these bad habits can be replaced with good ones, weight loss should come easy in most cases.

The trends are undeniable. According to a recent study by the USDA Economic Resource Service, the average citizen consumed 2,200 calories a day in 1970. Today, it's 2,700. America has been called "the land of plenty," but today it should be called "the land of way too much." Portion sizes have ballooned out of control, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight for those who frequently eat out.

The statistics are eye (and pants-button) popping. Check this one out: on average, Americans consume more than 23 quarts of ice cream and other frozen products a year.

Yet despite this increase in caloric intake, we as a people lead increasingly sedative lives. Today, 90 percent of American travel takes place in cars, buses or trains. Only 15 percent of us exercise vigorously for at least 20 minutes three times a week. Our country does spend $33 billion a year on food designed for weight loss, but without exercise, reduced fat Oreos aren't going to shed the pounds.

Most embarassingly, Americans spend more money overall on fast food than higher education.

With the popularity of films like Super Size Me and expos