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Americans are born and bred on famous products like Big Macs, Slurpees and Cheetos, to the point that junk food has been elevated to an art form. But in this age of political correctness, is mocking fat people a good idea?


As an American living abroad, it’s hard not to feel a sense of shame when the United States looks bad, really bad, on the world stage. It’s even worse when we crush the world stage to splinters just by standing on it. Yet, as citizens of the so-called ‘indispensable nation,’ we rarely admit to our faults, or allow outsiders to draw attention to them. Indeed, America’s sense of self-worth and gift of navel-gazing is world renowned, which is very ironic since many of us are so fat we can’t find our navels.


At this point, however, I had to pause and rethink my criticism. Was this individual suffering from some sort of chronic disease that made losing weight impossible? Perhaps he was suffering from a thyroid affliction. Another possible explanation was that this guy was suffering from deep depression, maybe due to some profound personal tragedy, and his only relief came through the ‘coping mechanism’ of consuming food. Or maybe he was simply living out his life exactly the way he wanted to, without any regrets, and despite the fact that it required him to use an electric buggy to get around town. He may justify his condition by saying, ‘It’s my business how I live my life, leave me alone.’


Yet, such a carefree attitude doesn’t make the problem any less worrisome for the US government. The New York Times recently summed up America’s health crisis in two words: “our food.” In fact, poor diet – not guns, terrorism or car accidents – is the leading cause of mortality in the US.


The total economic cost of obesity, when cardiovascular disease ($351 billion) and diabetes ($327 billion) are factored in, comes out to an estimated $1.72 trillion annually, or 9.3 percent of gross domestic product.


Those mind-blowing stats are placing a huge strain on the US healthcare industry at a time when sick and obese alike are struggling to pay their hefty medical bills. As healthcare costs rise in direct proportion to the increase in obesity rates, who is going to pick up the tab?


So, now it appears that the US is confronting a dire situation that could be considered nothing less than a real national emergency. Yet, due to the stifling atmosphere of political correctness, even mentioning the name of the problem has become taboo.
Will Americans be willing to listen to discussions about the hazards connected to overeating, or will such efforts go the way of Michelle Obama’s school lunch programs? Will corporations become more proactive and start offering healthier food options to consumers? Would McDonald’s go out of business if they went the vegan route? Or perhaps a tax increase on high-calorie products, like sugary soda drinks, will curb America’s seemingly insatiable desire for unhealthy foods? Thus far, such governments efforts for addressing the problem have met with mixed results.


In the end, will comics like Bill Maher, who think that ‘fat shaming’ people back into shape is a great idea, have the last laugh? Is this the only way to make a fiercely PC culture heed vital advice, when it is delivered like bitter medicine in a heaping spoonful of unabashed and tasteless criticism? If all else fails, America may be in for a revolt against political correctness in order to save it from ultimate physical collapse.