Our new American society

As a fitness professional, my future livelihood depends on a steady supply of overweight, gasping-for-air, high-cholesterol laden unfit Americans. Now looking at the statistics, I’ve got a pretty good chance at having a booming business for a long time. So my future is looking pretty good.

According to the CDC:

“American society has become ‘obesogenic,’ characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, non-healthful foods, and physical inactivity.”

“Obeso-what”? We now have a new medical term to describe this latest socio-political phenomenon. A strange-looking word, it comes from obese plus the ending -genic, something tending to generate or create. It’s so new it’s not even in my spell-checker program. This new societal epidemic seems to have flown under the radar while less concerning issues like the swine flu were handpicked to be the poster child for the “scariest things you probably won’t die of” campaign. Obesity can’t apply for that honor because although it kills around 300,000 Americans a year, as opposed to 36,000 who die of the flu, it is technically not a pandemic because it’s not infectious. Or is it?

When my sons enter college there is a good chance that they will not only be able to get a degree in political science, engineering, liberal arts or business, but also have the choice of a degree in obesogenics. That’s great, because it’s going to take some brilliant minds to figure this out. They won’t be reading Machiavelli, Keynes, Rousseau, Marx or Jung. They’ll be studying the FDA’s “Manual of Policies and Procedures” the CDC’S “Obesity Prevention: The Community Guide”, the American Medical Association’s “Code of Medical Ethics” and Monsanto’s “Fourth Quarter Earnings”.

So who is promoting this new American social order after all? Or is this just the new interpretation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”  And whose life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are we talking about?

Like I said, I’m really not complaining about our new American culture because our obesogenic society is for me what customers who don’t change their oil are for auto mechanics. Or like patients who don’t floss are for dentists. If everyone starting eating right, moving their bodies, changing their oil and cleaning their teeth, we’d be out of a job. So perhaps it’s the fitness industry that’s behind this secret plot to keep Americans fat, unhealthy and immobile. If not them, who?

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