Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Weight and alcohol...

All over the media I seem to encounter the war against fat, fat people, fat children, and all things fat. Health warnings are issued daily, and half of America is on either the "I hate carbs" or the "I hate fat" diet. When will the crusade against booze start? And I don't mean the "prohibition era II", but the media war on drinking to excess.

Several decades ago the crusade marched on smoking, and with good reason, but the fight took years and years (and still goes on), and certainly diverted attention from the massive numbers of alcohol related deaths, highway accidents, accidental deaths on the highway and in the home, family misery and brutality, and all the disease processes known to be exacerbated by alcohol. The old saying "You're never too thin or too rich" has never been more true. At the same time people are becoming addicted to exercise.

I see two reasons for all this emphasis on overweight. 1. It is a new crusade of attention that diverts the culture from facing its alcohol problem which affects social life even on the highest levels of society and government, and 2. So many people think they will be able to exercise their way and diet their way to eternal life. And by eternal life I mean the complete denial of death.

I am overweight. I have always had this tendency, and many times I have dieted to slenderness. I do not deny the possibility of weight playing a factor in illness, but it has not been shown conclusively that weight "causes" all the diseases that are at this moment being advertised as weight-caused.

It is a good idea to exercise and to watch ones intake. It is a good idea to try to live a healthy life. But philosophically speaking, I must tell you that at my age I know that to really go after the overuse of alcohol in this country (and I am not talking about any other country here at the moment) would just be such a revolutionary idea that any other crusade will always come first. "I can hold my liquor" and "I always stop at two" are probably the biggest lies we hear, and sadly they are often told by people who believe them to be true.

I see the college aged men and women drinking to excess as a "fun" pastime. They didn't get this idea from emanations out of the ozone, they got it from their parents generation. Drinking is nothing new, but the amounts and the spreading damage from the numbers of drinking students as young as junior high is amazing. This is sad, and will not be fixed by a few pious public service messages.

When you drive fat you don't kill, but when you drive drunk you do.

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