Toops Scoops: Uh-oh, I'm 'O'

Oct. 15, 2003
Remembering that Michael Jordan is also obese, I felt better and made myself several slices of pizza

After enjoying a delicious bacon and Twinkie breakfast, I stepped on my scale. Uh-oh! I've managed to hit the dreaded "O." Based on my height (5-feet) and weight (that's my secret) I am technically obese, according to the National Institute of Health's Body Mass Index (BMI) standard.

Remembering that Michael Jordan is also technically obese, I felt a bit better and made myself several slices of Red Baron frozen pizza to tide me over until lunch. I considered taking the scale out to the garbage, but I was on deadline -- only six more hours of sitting at the computer.

Depressed that I couldn't quite fit into my favorite jeans, I ate a pound and a half of M&M's, drank four Cokes and wolfed down a pint of Haagen-Dazs , all of which put me in a wonderful mood for a visit from my 7-year-old grandson, Templar.

After playing video games for an hour, Templar prepared our lunch: Kraft Mac & Cheese (I'm teaching him how to cook) and Jell-O pudding. "Now, I want to go to Lego Land," he said, and being a good grandma I agreed to the jaunt, adding that we should walk Chicago's Magnificent Mile to get there. "But Mumsie, I'm too tired after cooking. Let's take a cab," he begged.

While he was filling his knapsack with a stash of on-the-go snacks, the phone rang. It was my lawyer, Bob. "Hey Diane, sorry it took me a month to return your call, but I've been busy suing the food industry for making us all obese. They've got a lot of nerve making foods that contain calories and fat!"

"But we need fat in foods," I responded in defense of the industry that is, after all, my bread and butter. "Dietary fat contributes to human nutrition and well-being in many ways. Fat is a source of energy, a carrier of vitamins A, D, E and K; it also contains essential fatty acids, as well as flavor and aroma substances."

"Diane, you're so politically incorrect," said Bob, his voice rising. "Get on the gravy train. Food companies should be required by law to only make foods that contain no fat, no calories, no sugar, no acrylamides, no GMOs, no salt and no artificial colors or flavors."

"But foods will no longer taste good and consumers won't buy them," I replied. "If people want to consume cardboard, they can eat the package instead of the food inside."

"Hmm, that's not a bad idea," said Bob. "But you must agree it's the industry's responsibility to keep people thin and healthy at whatever cost," he answered heatedly. "There have been at least 179 bills or resolutions dealing with obesity introduced in 41 state legislatures since January alone. Read the consumer press , front-page news. Obesity is the hottest issue of the day."

"But the consumer has many food choices," I said, tripping over my treadmill (It's been unused so long, I forgot it was there). "There are 35,000-plus SKUs in the grocery store. Food companies work hard to develop safe, tasty foods at an affordable price , that's their job. Consumers decide what brands to buy, their portion sizes and how often they want to munch. It's not the industry's responsibility to tell people what to eat. Food company CEOs don't tie consumers to chairs and stuff food down their gullets. Each person is the master of his or her mouth. They can choose to be svelte by eating smaller portions combined with exercise. Why not sue the TV networks on behalf of couch potatoes? Whatever happened to personal responsibility?"

"Interesting philosophical questions; let's discuss them over a steak dinner and a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild," said Bob. "I've tripled my income in the past few months; dinner's on me."

E-mail Diane at [email protected].

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