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More data in on the battle of the bulge
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National health officials report this week that our obesity rate has slowed just a little, but it was nothing to get giddy about. In other words, we still have a very “large” problem on our hands ... and thighs ... and waist, etc.

I’m not sure how they are doing the math on this. When I graduated from high school, there were 180 million people in the U.S. Now, there are more than 300 million. So it stands to reason that we’ve got a lot more fat people than in 1966 simply because we’ve got more people and exponentially more fast food restaurants. But I’m assuming they are going on a percentage basis that would compare apples to apples — or in this case, cheeseburgers to cheeseburgers.

Now I’m sure a lot of this obesity issue has to do with more sedentary lifestyles. As well, we are encouraged to eat at every turn. Today I was surfing the TV channels and four channels featured food shows. The shows ranged from a barbecue competition to some guy eating fish eyes on a boat in Thailand and smacking his lips for the camera to make us believe he liked it. Off camera I’m betting he was adding to the chum.

They’ve even got fast-food commercials that bridge on pornography.

Of all commercials on television, I would pose that food commercials play on the power of suggestion more than any other item. And that’s because it’s basic to our survival. Let me put this another way, if there’s a commercial for Ball Park franks and one for a Chevy truck, you’re much more likely to run in the kitchen and make yourself a chili dog as opposed to running out at that moment and buying a new truck.

I have a particularly low tolerance when it comes to food and the power of suggestion. Many times I’ve watched TV cowboys sitting around their campfire eating, and I would go open a can of pork’n beans and join them. The movie that makes me the hungriest is “Liberty Valence,” starring John Wayne, Lee Marvin and Jimmy Stewart.

About two-thirds of that movie is shot inside a little cafe in a town called Shinbone in the wild West. All through that movie, this Swedish family (I think they were the Johansons) were frying up steaks, dishing out baked beans, potatoes and deep-dish apple pie. To this day, I cannot eat any of those foods without flashbacks of that movie.

I may be more vulnerable than many people in this regard. I’ve probably seen “Jaws” a dozen times. And while a lot of people were gnawing their fingernails down to the quick as Chief Brody was stuffing an air tank into the mouth of that big shark, I was wondering if Red Lobster would still be open when the movie ended.

Not too long ago, I watched that old classic “The Old Man and the Sea” with Spencer Tracy, and afterwards I swung by Captain D’s for a take out. And I had already had supper.

I try to force myself to eat healthier than I used to. But I’ve still got a long way to go in that regard. I once offered my condolences to a friend who had just lost his favorite uncle. I asked him what his uncle died of. He said it was mostly Southern cooking. So I try to incorporate that little bit of information into my flashbacks.

Speaking of flashbacks, I was on a channel where a preacher was deep into Old Testament fire and brimstone. Suddenly, I was back at homecoming and dinner on the grounds. My memory was so vivid, I could smell the fried chicken and fried okra. Early on, I think I got the idea that food was spiritual and should be embraced like a spring revival. I’m surprised we weren’t called Southern-Fried Baptists. Some of us must have thought they were saying “Praise the lard.”

Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer and can be reached at

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