*”Moderation” is, generally, not a term that Americans are comfortable with. It’s as foreign to us as the idea of a king or a queen ruling from sea to shining sea. No, our culture demands excess at all times, and damn the consequences. Look at all the foundation-rippling events over the last decade, all resulting out of a mad dash for more, more, more. Juiced-up sluggers with steroid-addled biceps the size of houses to hit longer home runs, to attract more eyeballs to a sport. Hollow eye-candy feature films overstuffed with explosions, whirring robots and lousy special effects to stimulate the short attention spans of youngsters. Mountains of credit card debt to afford X-Boxes or plasma televisions. Subprime mortgages for quick cash and a boost to unscrupulous lenders. Some of the worst, most base impulses humans could have, played out on a national scale.
Nowhere is this seen more accurately – or in a more disturbing fashion – than in our country’s culinary habits. It’s not enough to serve a piece of greasy fried chicken – we have to take two pieces, and smash bacon and cheese between them. An ice cream sundae isn’t enough of a treat – we have to put bacon into it. Yeesh. Is there any wonder why the country’s obesity rates are about to soar above LeBron James’ scoring average?
The recent movement in New York City towards banning one of the worst caloric offenders – those monstrous, barrel-sized sodas packed to the brim with waistline-spreading sugars and mind-slogging caffeine – could represent an interesting first strike in a new tactic against this obesity epidemic in the form of straight government intervention. Yes, the obesity problem has gotten so bad that the U.S. government is starting to address the situation, just as if a natural disaster were to have hit. Make no mistake, the problem is on a natural disaster scale. Thirty-six percent of American adults and an astonishing 44% of African-Americans are obese. That’s positively frightening.
Predictably, the ban brought out apocalyptic cries of “big government” intervention from the right, assuming that the ban of these Mt. Everest-size sodas was somehow the first step towards absolute Mad Max-style anarchy. Enough from them. It’s about time that some organization stepped up to the plate to address obesity in America, and the city’s ban on these vats of soda will – if nothing else – help draw attention to just how terrible the health of the country is. We shouldn’t have to legislate common sense, but sometimes it’s the only way to get things done. Better to start waking people up to the problem now than to face the results of this in another generation of humanity – the same future that Wall-E predicted a few years ago.