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Friday, October 15, 2010

Obesity - A threat to national security...

One of the most popular posts to date for this blog has been about obesity.  That's right, about being over weight.

Now it would appear that obesity is threatening our national security.

As Pogo used to say "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Back in 1971 I entered high school.  I lived in the rural mid west at the time and high school was a 15 mile bus ride.  When I started there the graduating seniors were going to Vietnam via the draft.  Its probably hard to imagine for you kiddies reading this but this was real serious business in those days.

The commies where threatening our security - our freedom and way of life.

Now its our own laziness.

I recall sitting in study hall and lunch with seniors my first year of high school.  Though not much explicitly was said the potential trip to southeast Asia was always the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

In those days you were a man at 18.  A lot of guys lived on their own and went to high school where I lived.  I rode on the bus each day with girls who would get married when the graduated.  Some left early, which you could do in those days, to get married at 16.  They raised families.  They were grown up.

Families were large in those days, too.  You'd sit in church and see a family take up the entire pew - mom, dad, 8-10 brothers and sisters - usually from 18 or 19 down to infants in arms.

Mom worked in those days - at home.  Cleaning, feeding kids, canning, you name it.  She had no time for your kiddie bullshit either.  My buddy - see below - had married brothers - she was probably about 7 years old at the time.  Mom worked the garden and farm with dad.  My buddy was lucky - some of our peers sat in the truck all day while dad ran the plow because mom was too busy to watch them working around the house.

But back to obesity...

In those days no one to speak of was overweight.  I think there were many reasons for this.

One was that you didn't eat the crap you do now: sugary soda, candy bars, fatty chips of all sorts.  And you didn't eat it all day long either.  One of my pals in those early days (probably the mid 1960's) lived on a farm.  It was a two mile trip to her house on my bicycle so I didn't get there much.  I was a weenie.  She road over on her bike.

She used to come over with other kids after school - but she always left on time.  One day I asked why.  She said "If I'm home late I don't get dinner - its all gone."  I was astounded.  "What do you mean", I asked.  She said when dinner goes on the table its in big bowls.  If you're not there to grab a helping you don't get any.  Needless to say she always left on time.

There was no eating extra food in my house for the most part either.  Maybe you could have an afternoon snack after school but in general you ate only at meal times.

If I wanted soda or a candy bar it had to buy it myself - as part of my $1 allowance per week.  In those days a soda machine charged $.10 USD for soda and the same for a candy bar.  These machines weren't ubiquitous like they are now.

If I wanted a snack before dinner I got celery.

Another reason is that you didn't just sit around as a kid.

My other buddy lived about a mile away on another farm.  I used to ride my bike down there after school and work for his dad - I was probably 7 or 8.  We plowed fields, put corn in the corn crib, milked cows, whatever his dad needed us to do.  I got paid in change.  This guy could drive the tractor over to my house on the road - I was impressed - he was my age.

If I wasn't doing that we were busy outside basically year round - playing baseball or kick the can or ice skating.  (In those days it was your fault if the ice broke an you fell through.)

We were also taught that what you see advertised on TV was probably bad for you - especially junk food.  Today advertising has been lifted to fine art - but not then.  It was something to be suspicious of.  Why, if the product was sooo gooood did they need to push it on TV?  We were taught it was a commie conspiracy to take over the country. (Most of our dads had been in wars or the military.  WW II hung like a pal over us - Nazi's in particular.)

This wasn't just "out on the farm" either - my cousin lived "in town" - same deal as me - more to do, more trouble to get into, but you didn't sit around the house all day eating and doing nothing.

The only comparison I have to this experience is my own grandchildren.  They are now in the age range I am reminiscing about.  There lives are much different.

They don't go outside off of the property alone because its dangerous.  So no running, no bike riding, none of that.

They are glued to the television.  (Yes I know this is cliche but its still true.)  They come over and often as not there they sit with movies playing over and over.  The kids immobile.

They always need to have food while all this goes on.  Snacks and goodies - all sugar and fat.

This is not new and has been going on since I was probably in high school.  Kids I new that had younger brothers and sisters exhibited this same behavior - probably starting in the late 1960's.

My guess is that this more or less parallels the introduction of "color TV" and working mom.  With no one there to watch over things things went down the tubes.

Well, from where I set today I think the commies succeeded - just like we were told.

Our national security trashed by us and our own very own laziness - all for a tube Pringle's and can of Coke.

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

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