Classic Column Sunday: Hide Your Cheeseburgers! Here Come The Fat Police!

I thought that for a little change of pace on Sunday nights, I would start posting some of my old columns. I wrote a weekly column for the Expositor (Sparta’s local paper) called “Adolescent Attitudes” when I was a senior in high school and during my early years of college. I had a ton of fun with it, and I still have a lot of affection for these old pieces. I’m not sure that anyone can really call any of these “classics,” but since it’s my blog I can do whatever I want. If you read these columns the first time, you can relive the experience. If you’re a first time reader, well, I was an odd young man.

I’m not sure about all the legal stuff with copyright, so I’ll just clarify that I was the original author and these columns were originally published in the Sparta Expositor.

Here’s a little news item from the world of really, really stupid people. In an article in the Addictive Behaviors journal, Yale professor Kelly Brownell has recommended that a special tax be placed on fatty foods and that advertisements for these foods should be restricted. The advertising restrictions would include close examination of advertisements for non-food products to see if they promote unhealthy role models. Additionally, if Brownell’s proposal was to become policy, activities that promote good health would receive government subsidies, and those who participated in these behaviors would receive tax breaks.

This is the most terrifying thing I have ever heard.

First off, I would like to note that for the first time ever in this column, I’m actually doing a little bit of research before writing. Normally, I just write whatever the Column Fairy gives to me as I sleep (She’s been a bit lazy lately), but this time I actually looked up some articles on the internet and verified that I knew what I was talking about. I’m pretty proud of myself. But that’s enough patting myself on the back, on with the stupidity.

The reason why this worries me is because I don’t know if I like the idea of the government taking care of me and keeping me from getting fat. I firmly believe that the founding fathers, when writing the Constitution, had the intention of building a country where people can grow as many chins as they like without fear. This “we’re from the government and we’re here to help” type of policy seems to me to be like a the guy who comes up to you when you’re working out and tries to get you to work out more. I’m perfectly happy going about my life with a certain level of physical activity and a high quantity of junk food. I don’t need the government to tell me I should work out more; I already know that. However, if I choose to reduce my fat intake, I’d like it to be for the reasons everyone else does it – to impress other people and look pretty.

In modern society, people really don’t need to be extremely physically fit. What do most people do on a day-to-day basis that requires them to be in good shape? In ancient times you had to be fit to outrun the animals that were lurking around trying to eat them. That’s motivation! The only thing we need exercise for is so that we can do the exercises. We exercise with weights so that we can lift the weights. After lifting the weights, what do we earn? The right to lift more weights!

Proponents of this “fat tax” compare fatty foods to cigarettes because they say that both are harmful and are marketed knowing the harm they will cause. They call this food tax a “sin tax.” Let me now confess that as a college student, I am apparently the chief of sinners. I don’t know of a single food I eat that is not harmful to me in some way. I have become intimately acquainted with McDonald’s this past year, and everyone knows that eating at Mickey D’s is shining example of healthy living. I can’t help it though! At fifty cents a burger, it’s impossible for a poor boy to overlook. I drink coffee by the bucket, and I’m sure that if they can attack fat, soon caffeine will be somewhere among their targets… and that, my friends, is when they will have gone too far.

Picture this scene if you will. It’s the year 2130. Shiny, happy beautiful people with great bodies are walking down the street smiling perfectly white smiles. They are festively dressed in perfectly fitting clothes (It’s much easier to design clothes for the thin.) in honor of a national holiday. It’s Anorexia Day! Those who have been able to reject not only fatty foods, but all foods, are regarded as heroes. Plus, they get incredible government benefits for taking up this cause. In the midst of this, two men – obviously up to no-good – are talking on the street corner. One hands the other a large sum of money in exchange for a indiscreet brown paper bag. The receiver of this parcel, we’ll call him Winston, glances around nervously and then runs to the shelter of his home. As he unwraps his prize, the smell of beef and cheese float into his nostrils. A cheeseburger! The most beautiful cheeseburger in the world! As his teeth close on this miracle, a knock sounds from the door. The door is flung open – the Fat Police! Winston is knocked to ground as he tries to run and the beautiful meat patty falls to onto the ground, ruined. The five-second rule is not enough.

Fight for freedom. Go get a burger, some fries, fried chicken, ice cream, a candy bar, a plate of nachos, a burrito, a pizza, a medium-rare steak, a plate of enchiladas, a roast beef sandwich, or even just plate of fried eggs and country ham. Make the founding fathers proud.

honoring god with our bodies

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Let’s face it, most of us need to be in better shape. I’m including myself in the “most of us.” I recently got a letter in the mail from my insurance company talking about the average health of most ministers. 76% of ministers are overweight or obese, compared to 61% of the population as a whole. According to studies most ministers:

  • Work more than 60 hours a week.
  • Exercise less than 30 minutes a week.
  • Have above average stress, weight gain, and depression.
  • Are at high risk for heart disease.
  • Experience regular gastro-intestinal problems.
  • Report low morale or exhaustion.

I think it’s a tragedy that many ministers who could have had long fruitful ministries are being cut down years too early because of preventable health problems. That, along with a recent stress related health scare*, is why I’m making a vow to do something about it. I don’t want to be a statistic, and even more, I don’t want my ministry to end suddenly just because I was too busy to spend time in the gym and I couldn’t resist that second helping.

Bad health is not just a problem for ministers though. Remember that statistic I quoted in the first paragraph. 61% percent of the population is overweight or obese. Even if that’s not you, if you honest with yourself, you probably need to work out a little more. The church is all about helping people become spiritually healthy, but we’re supposed to honor God with our whole lives and that includes honoring God with our bodies. (For more about the theology involved in physical fitness, check out this post over at The Resurgence.) That’s why I’m looking at the idea of starting some kind of program for youth and a adults to help us get in shape together. No major commitments, just some accountability and encouragement with occasional times of working on this thing together.

This idea is just in it’s infancy right now, but is it something you’d be interested in doing? Is your health something you’re even interested in at all? Answer the poll and leave me some comments to let me know whether or not this is something worth looking at.

*I don’t want to worry anybody. Nothing serious happened, I just found out the fun physical manifestations of too little sleep and too much stress.