The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

APRIL  2004

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.


Ned Hickson






Surgeon General's warning:

Eat healthy, lose weight, or fight a mountain lion

By Ned Hickson

Like many of you, I'll never forget where I was when I heard the shocking news that obesity had officially become the No. 1 preventable health crisis in the nation. In fact, I can even tell you which super-sized meal I was eating. The truth is, it's time for us Americans to make some drastic changes in our eating habits before the unthinkable happens, and we're forced to apologize to the French for throwing the earth off its axis.

With that in mind, we scheduled a Q&A session with the Surgeon General to explain how we got so fat, and what we can do to reverse this trend so that Americans can get back to living a normal, healthy lifestyle cut short by smoking and drinking.

Q: How did we get so fat?

SG: We'll start around 200,000 B.C., when early man was scavenging for food and living in dirty enclosures littered with bones and debris; a way of life that can still be observed in many college dorms. The difference is that, in prehistoric times, 'fast food' was something hairy traveling on all fours. While there are plenty of campus refrigerators filled with hairy food items, in most cases it has stopped moving by the time it's eaten. Because of this, early man had the distinct health advantage of burning fat in order to obtain food, compared to what many college students burn, which is generally a large Papa Murphy's pizza.

Q: Then why do so many college students look so trim?

SG: Because their metabolism is still very high. This allows them to continue their bad eating habits without consequence until around age 30, when their metabolism suddenly kicks into reverse and, without warning, starts sucking up fat like a industrial shop-vac.

Q: What can we do to break this unhealthy cycle?

SG: The problem is that food has become too convenient. It wasn't long ago that Americans were a trim people undaunted by the idea of actually walking into a fast food restaurant and standing in line before being fed. Now, drive-up windows hand us food bags roughly the size of a potato sack, which we plant between the seats in our tank-sized SUVs. To break the cycle we must return to our hunter-gatherer roots. How?

Q: Hey, that's my line.

SG: Sorry.

Q: How do we return to our hunter-gatherer roots?

SG: By making it more difficult to get fast food. This can be achieved any number of ways, starting with the implementation of smaller, highly mobile restaurants. You knew where Taco Bell was today, but what about tomorrow? And if you do find it, what if it runs off? True, there's always a chance of finding a herd of Arby's, but chances are you won't be able to bring one down by yourself.

Q: I'm not sure about that idea.

SG: Please keep your comments in the form of a question.

Q: Fine: Are you nuts?!

SG: Okay, instead of mobile restaurants, how about making any fast food purchase a life-or-death situation by forcing consumers to fight a mountain lion...

Q: A mountain lion?!

SG: Just a small one.

Q: Are you dieting right now?

SG: I was really hoping it wouldn't be that obvious.

Ned Hickson is a columnist with the Siuslaw News, Florence, OR.  He can be contacted at: