Loretta LaRoche: We’ve turned food into a heavyweight of a problem

Loretta LaRoche

A lot of media coverage has focused on the increasing obesity crisis in America, and the first lady is now directing a lot of her efforts toward the growing epidemic of obese children.

The weight-gain situation is a sad commentary on our culture.

Myriad reasons for what’s happened have been explored – parents, schools, fast-food emporiums and the possibility of people have food addictions to name a few.

I’m sure those can all be valid assumptions, but I have lived long enough to note that my generation and those before me never seemed to struggle with weight.

Somewhere along the way, the idea of how much sustenance one needs to go through the day has shifted to "more is better." We have become like grazing cows, continuously munching and crunching, and moving slowly through the day.

But with cows there’s a byproduct of all the chewing; it’s called milk. Unfortunately for us, we just get fat. Unlike cows, we don’t munch on bits of grass, a little here, a little there.

We have become consumers of portions that could feed a village, and it’s getting worse. On a recent road trip, I saw several billboards, one after another, that showcased hamburgers big enough to double as mattresses. The toppings, including bacon and cheese, were oozing and falling out of the burgers.

You would literally need a stepladder to get to the top. The calorie count for overgrown burgers like these is probably around 2,000 calories or more. Add a Coke and a dessert and you’re done for the day, and possibly the next few days. Most often, this type of food is eaten quickly.

That’s probably why they call it fast food. Most meals years ago were eaten together with family members and took some time.

Today, eating has to fit into the construct of a busy day. It is often treated as an inconvenience and therefore something to done as quickly as possible; then we can get back to our texting, e-mailing and cell phones.

In fact, some people won’t even take a break from their techno world to stop and eat, and you can hear them chomping while they’re talking to you.

We need to bring back the ability to savor and be present to what we’re eating and how much. Those choices are in our control. Once we truly understand that, we may find that obesity becomes a non-issue.

Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth 02360, send e-mail, visit the Web site, or call toll-free 800-99-TADAH (82324).