The Atlantic has been a tonic for me lately, running a bunch of really sharp contrarian pieces, some of which I love, some of which enrage me, and all of which wake me up. Mark Ambinder's cover story "Beating Obesity" in the latest issue is not one of those of those sharply contrarian pieces. It is a dully contrarian piece. Ambinder, political editor of the magazine, is most definitely not a writer, and his description of his own struggles with obesity manages to be both self-pitying and flat.
His thesis is, however, guaranteed to raise the gardener's blood pressure: that there is only one real cure for obesity, bariatric surgery. Ambinder argues that America therefore needs to focus on preventing obesity. And that means focusing on kids and the food manufacturers that target them.
Clearly America is currently not very good at preventing obesity, since a third of all adults are now obese, a statistic that makes me reel.
My feeling is, great, by all means, focus on the kids, for what it's worth while their parents are still doing the grocery shopping! But maybe the adults, too, before getting surgery to correct for the effects of a horrendously awful diet, could try eating a few vegetables, maybe even growing them for the exercise and the extreme deliciousness of anything fresh from the garden. Let's see…a bag of chips or pasta with fresh roasted tomatoes and rosemary? I'm sorry, once you've tasted the latter, I fail to see how you could find anything whatsoever interesting in the former.
This week my favorite Times blogger Olivia Judson shows how much is at stake in a post that also deals with obesity, and the connection between a fat body and an atrophying brain.