May 08

Chasing the almighty dollar

May 8- money There are always two sides to every story. But, in my view, the decision by Forever 21 and Target to launch 'plus-size' lines for obese teenagers comes down to one thing: chasing sales no matter what the cost.

I agree that all sized teens should have the same fashion options. But, selling lines that go up to size 30 sends exactly the wrong message: '…It's ok to eat to excess and jeopardize your long-term health. We'll still provide you with every fashion accessory your slimmer, healthier peers sport.'

According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, the rate of obesity among adolescents 12-19 has more than tripled in the last 20 years. Providing a full line of plus size clothes is tantamount to telling these teens: 'Go ahead and inhale the Double Whopper, large fries and super-sized Coke. We'll have your dress and accessories waiting on aisle four.' (Note: my comments do not apply to those teens who suffer from medical or genetic disorders and can't control their weight).

Industry analysts estimate that Target, Forever 21 and other retailers who follow their sorry lead could be looking at an additional $3 billion in business within two years or less. In short, the almighty dollar trumps clearly corporate social responsibility for these organizations.

Advocates of plus-sized jean clothing say the obese have been penalized in the past for being overweight, and the Forever 21 and Target decisions are akin to a fashion Independence day for them. Obese teens may feel newly liberated, but sending a signal to them that it's ok to jeopardize one's health in the name of fashion is akin to turning an alcoholic loose in a liquor store. '…..Drink as much as you want. We believe alcoholics should have as many options as responsible adults.'

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Forever 21 and Target's moves are not only desperate, they're despicable.

Jul 09

Who’s to blame when we’re all at fault?

Is there a more disgusting spectacle on television than the now-annual Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest?Hot_dog
As almost everyone knows by now, the contest’s goal is to challenge contestants to ingest as many hot dogs as possible within a given time frame. Cash awards are enormous. The competition is fierce and the media coverage has escalated into, dare I say it, a veritable feeding frenzy.

Juxtapose this truly gross spectacle against the reality of our country’s childhood and adult obesity epidemic and one is left to ponder: what’s become of corporate social responsibility and/or good old common sense?

Why are ESPN, CNN and all the major networks airing segments from the franks feast yet paying short shrift to the latest set of recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics? Alarmed at the wave of obese kids in our nation, the nation’s most influential group of pediatricians is recommending that docs start testing overweight kids for high cholesterol at the age of two!

It’s absolutely mind boggling to contemplate that some of today’s kids are already in trouble within 24 months of leaving the womb. On the other hand, it’s not so surprising at all.

Why is Nathan’s dismissing the health and well-being of our country’s kids by promoting a hot dog eating event that literally sickens contestants and viewers alike? Why are the sports channels and mainstream news networks covering the spectacle with jocular, lighthearted segments? And, why are Americans attending the event in person and watching it on TV?

You know our country’s out of control when no one takes responsibility for mitigating a disaster like this. If I were asked, I’d allow the event to continue (free speech, and all, etc.), but I’d display all sorts of warning labels, posters, and admonitions as well as have myriad spokespeople available to warn viewers, readers and listeners to avoid hot dogs if they have any hopes of leading a long and healthy life. I’d also run a few, up-close-and-personal case studies of morbidly obese Americans who’ve gorged on garbage like hot dogs and paid the ultimate price.

To paraphrase the Bard of Avon, the fault lies not in our stars, but in our stomachs. Nathan’s: stop promoting unhealthy eating. ESPN and others: stop publicizing this crap. My fellow Webizens: wise up and stay away from junk like hot dogs. We’ve got to stop the madness now.

Apr 29

Girth of a nation

The mainstream media has been laden with stories about America’s losing fight against obesity. EachAmbulance
year, it seems more and more Americans fall behind in their personal battle of the bulge.

By now, everyone knows about the various side effects of our super-sized population (i.e. Heart disease, diabetes, etc.).

But, what had escaped my notice until recently, were the various cottage industries that have sprung up to ‘support’ our country’s weighty issue. 

One such example is a new generation of super-sized ambulance equipment. Fire, rescue and first aid departments around the country are investing in stretchers and gurneys that can accommodate patients who now routinely weigh up to 600 pounds and more.

A friend of mine, who is a volunteer fireman, can attest to the need for these extra-strength units. He told me he and his fellow volunteers are becoming increasingly worried about injuring themselves and their patients because of the latter’s obesity.

How sad is it that American ingenuity can provide a ready-made solution to transporting increasing numbers of morbidly obese citizens, but still be unable to solve obesity’s root causes?

America’s falling behind in every conceivable global competitiveness measure except, perhaps, in inventing new widgets to deal with our self-destructive wantonness. It’s enough to make a blogger say, ‘Hey, ‘weight’ a minute. Has anyone in a position of power noticed that our dollar has shrunk in inverse proportion to our expanding waistlines?