Saturday, July 16, 2011


I see fat people. Riding scooters among regular people. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re fat

How often do you see them?

All the time. They’re everywhere.

⎯ with apologies to M. Night Shyamalan

A couple of weeks ago, we made one of our pilgrimages to bow before the mouse with the white gloves.

The Rankin family is Disneyfied. Every few years (or more often if we’re able), we have to pack the car and head to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, home of the happiest place on Earth. We not only have a great time (all the wishes you can afford), but we get to look through a window onto America.

On this latest trip, I made two observations about the state of our people, and those observations are not terribly positive. One is about how people treat each other; the other is about how they have been treated.

First, the decline in courtesy and civility in our society continues to amaze me. You have to understand; I’m old school. I was raised to believe that the fabric of our people is held together by the display of good manners.

When I see adult men keeping their seat on monorails and busses when there are women and children standing, I am disgusted. I saw a few men do the right thing, but often it was out of a sense of shame after seeing someone like me do it. I was encouraged by one teenager who spontaneously get up and offer his seat to my wife and son. More often than not, though, I saw men in their twenties and thirties keep their seats and look down to pretend they didn’t see anyone else.

Another indication of the decline of cavity is one of my pet peeves: men wearing hats (usually baseball caps) in restaurants. Yes, I realize we were in a resort area, and that the old rules are relaxed. I can handle guys wearing shorts and decent t-shirts to nice restaurants. I can handle wearing caps inside the lobby of a hotel, inside souvenir shops, or even in elevators. But I always like to think of restaurants and dining rooms as the last refuge of civility.

This is not something restricted to Disney World. I see this absurd and disrespectful wearing of headgear in nice restaurants outside of resort areas. These aren’t guys wearing hats outside and not wanting to show their hat hair; most of the guys I saw doing it were bald or had buzz cuts. And it’s not just kids. I see middle-aged men doing it. Shame on their parents for not raising them right!

Okay, let me get off of that soapbox. My second observation is far more serious.

A day or two into our visit, my wife turned to me and asked, “have you noticed how many more scooters we’re seeing than we used to?” Some were the people we’ve always seen: the elderly, those with heart problems, those with extreme arthritis (a bad enough sign of the times). Mostly, though, we saw people who needed their scooters because they were just too heavy to ambulate on their own.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m carrying too many pounds on my frame (a situation I’m addressing). I’m not talking here about people who are “husky,” “heavy-set,” “big-boned,” “chubby,” or even just “fat. The people we saw on their scooters fit the category of morbidly obese. And they were everywhere.

They tooled around here and there, but even in one of the most ADA-compliant locations on the planet there were things they just couldn’t do. It was just too hard for them to maneuver through the crowds—not that it didn’t stop them from trying as the screams and howls of folks with run-over feet attested.

The level of obesity we see these days is not just a problem of too many people lacking discipline at the dinner table or spending too much time at the television. And even though we saw entire families that were way overweight, this isn’t a simple matter of genetics (there may be some genetic predisposition at work, but it’s too simple an answer). This is not a matter of personal behavior as much as it is a matter of environment.

The obesity epidemic is just one more part of the “new normal.” We’re a society packed with autoimmune disorders, developmental disabilities, and so many chronic health problems—like obesity. Is it all related?

The causes for all of these things are complex. Even the autism epidemic can’t be limited to just over-vaccination and vaccine toxicity.

The root of the obesity epidemic are the most basic parts of the underlying causal factors of the “new normal: as a whole. It all comes down to what we are putting into our bodies.

We live in a country in which the advertising empires have convinced us we must eat “low-fat” foods, and use artificial ingredients to avoid all of that bad natural stuff that will make us fat. So how come we’re going in the other direction?

Could it be that we shouldn’t be so focused on how much fat as we should the kind of fats?

Could it be that we shouldn’t be so focused on saving calories that we wind up putting pesticides in our bodies instead of real, raw sugar, honey, or natural alternatives?

Do we need to focus so much on food production that we feed things to cattle that God didn’t design their systems for, genetically design seeds to put the pest control inside of the food instead of outside (both bad alternatives), or poison the waters from which we get so much of our sustainable food supply?

Our family made a commitment some years ago to clean up our diet. We eat grass-fed beef, wild caught seafood species that are known to not retain mercury, pastured pork and free-range chicken, and organic produce. It’s made a difference in our lives. We feel better. We’re healthier. And on those occasions when overconsumption and inactivity bring on the extra pounds, we’re able to make relatively easy corrections that don’t involve riding on electronic devices.

A good place to start is the Weston A. Price Foundation.