Think because there’s a presidential election there aren’t other “big” issues? Believe that, and pigs can fly.
In fact, there is a huge discussion eating at many Americans, the girth of which we are trying to get our arms around.
What is this weighty issue being feasted upon by both sides?
The massive obesity rate in America, and whether publicly calling attention to it, and obese individuals themselves, should be on the table.
The issue got cooking again after overweight news anchor Jennifer Livingston of WKBT in La Crosse, Wis., received a private email. Kenneth Krause questioned her weight, asking whether she considered herself “a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular,” and adding, “Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain.”
Since Livingston’s skin was surprisingly thin for someone in the public eye, she responded with a four-minute on-air editorial rebuking Krause.
But rather than giving viewers food for thought regarding obesity, she left everyone wondering “Where’s the beef?” by barely weighing in on the issue. Instead she had a cow, ranting incessantly about bullying. Yes, bullying! She even blubbered about how those struggling with sexual preference, skin color, and even acne need to stand up to bullying.
Bravo! And since anchors often sink, that classic bait-and-switch ensures Ms. Livingston a long political career should her day job not pan out.
However, while other media outlets are fawning over Livingston’s diatribe, my Freindly Fire news bureau won’t serve up Grade A compliments so freely. This is far too much at steak (stake, sorry) to allow her to duck the meat of the issue.
First on the menu are the facts:
1. Livingston received a private email, and chose to go public. Krause didn’t “bully” her, but offered his opinion to a public figure. She could have responded privately or ignored it. Getting nasty emails is part of the job. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the . . . kitchen.
And how can a non-vulgar, non-threatening email even remotely be considered bullying?
2. Every aspect of obesity needs to be discussed in an open, respectful manner, whether or not feelings are hurt. That’s not bullying. It’s constructive dialogue, something quickly disappearing in America.
3. The vast majority of obesity cases (which includes nearly 40 percent of
American adults) result from lifestyle choices. Only an extremely small percentage is related to medical conditions.
4. Let’s put a fork in the myth that thyroid conditions are more prevalent than the common cold. Not only are they rare, but medications treat that condition and combat weight gain. Interestingly, Livingston never mentioned during her editorial that she had a thyroid condition. That morsel only came out after Livingston’s story became an international headline.
In fairness to Livingston, it would seem Krause formulated his opinion not knowing if she had a medical condition, so it would have been prudent had he addressed that question.
That said, as big as Livingston has become, she is not the issue. Nor is Krause.
Before we get to the skinny on obesity, it is equally important to understand what this isn’t about: bullying. Does it exist? Always has and always will. Reasonable efforts should be made to fight it. But “bullying” has become the catch-all whenever someone feels jilted, offended, or bad about themselves.
The tragic part is that combating real bullying has taken a backseat to an all-appeasing political correctness running rampant throughout America.
From social media to the schoolyard, children are no longer permitted to fight their own battles, instead seeing the authorities swoop in at the first sign of conflict. Sounds nice, and sometimes intervention is necessary, but overall that paternalism leaves children woefully unprepared for The Real World.
And now we are seeing the results of crib-to-college coddling: Our businesses are sanitized risk-averse petri-dish experiments for social engineering, wars are fought so as to not offend the enemy, and scoreboards are turned off in youth sports so a team down by five goals doesn’t cry and quit. But no worries! Everyone gets a trophy!
Maybe if America prioritized growing up and not out, it’d be much better off.
The real issue is how to gnaw away at the obesity rate, since associated medical costs are soaring (over 20 percent of all healthcare spending) and cases of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are meteorically rising. Insurance premiums keep increasing to subsidize the obese, and worker productivity is down.
Most alarming, America’s youth are being de-sensitized to obesity and its negative effects. In a “do-whatever-makes-you-feel-good” society, that’s a dangerous recipe.
The best way to change that fatitude is shame, a value in thin supply. Part Two will chew that fat on how shame, correctly utilized, can lighten the load on America’s youth.
An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Friendly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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