As someone who recently lost 98 pounds (kudos to Weight Watchers!) and who well knows he’ll be monitoring his poundage for the rest of his days, I appreciated (albeit in a bittersweet manner) the approach taken by Stephanie Mencimer in her article concerning teenage obesity (“Hiding in Plain Sight,” 6/16).
For, although it’s easy to look at the matter of overeating as a cause of this epidemic, it’s also important to remember the paucity of non-fast-food establishments in lower-income neighborhoods (hence my simile “rare as a salad bar in the ghetto”), our cultural inclination toward the “more is better” ethic, and, last but not least, the lack of affordable health care for Americans with weight-related (hell, any-related) maladies.
It also doesn’t help that we as a nation are currently cursed with a kind of schizophrenia concerning obesity. On the one hand, we desire “perfect” bodies, but on the other hand, we continue to find temporary solace in bigger portions, bigger cars, bigger everything.
In some ways, it would be easier to fight this battle if the issue were solely centered around calorie intake vs. exercise. But because issues of self-esteem are as much a part of the landscape as Chinese carryouts (not to mention liquor stores!) on certain corners, it’s going to take more than one metaphorical pistol to slay this beast.