A terrible epidemic is quite literally spreading across the United States. It gets big play on the evening news, where medical officials update us, over ominous-sounding music, about the Obesity Epidemic.
If you haven't caught obesity, you probably know someone who has. Just look around to see how this plague is changing the face (well, the figure) of America.
You can't miss the pitiful victims. Watch shoppers in the malls, look up from your three-piece chicken box at other diners, notice those motorists driving around the parking lot seeking a spot near the door. Why, just look around the room at Aunt Mary or Cousin Bob at your next family reunion.
I'm scared. I have ducked the swine flu. The seasonal flu hasn't invaded my home. The coughing-sneezing-sniffling bug I had was paltry compared with this new virus that health agencies, doctors and the media are warning us about.
I was smart enough to be immunized against the seasonal and H1N1 flus and even pneumonia. There is no vaccination for obesity!
From what I read, scientists are ignoring this disease in favor of other disorders. They even say obesity is not an actual disease. Then how is it an epidemic?
No, they claim it's a "lifestyle choice." A fat lot they know!
Although I haven't developed a full-blown case of obesity (knock on wood and a box of Krispy Kremes), I fear that it is only a matter of time. Already I have developed symptoms.
The most obvious one is that my height is not keeping up with my weight. As a result, I need taller hats, or else larger clothes.
My wife has been too mindful of my mental health to point out the changes in my physical health, but she certainly hasn't offered to buy me taller hats. She ignores the obvious and forces a loving smile as she hands me the remote control and my nightly bowl of mashed potatoes.
I've noticed other symptoms: a massive grocery bill; french fries stuck to the carpet of the car; thank-you letters from bakeries.
Obesity is insidious, even affecting our dogs. They are overweight, too, because instead of bothering to take them for a walk, I just hold them up at the window and let them see the neighborhood. Dogs really do look like their owners, don't they?
It is sad that this infection doesn't discriminate; children are no more protected than adults and dogs. Remember when kids would run and play into the evening hours? Now they must be content to sit in front of the television or video games, munching on cheese curls until supper drags them away from their recreation.
Fortunately, the contagion has stayed mostly within our borders. Folks in China, India, Japan and Sweden have escaped obesity. People on the Mediterranean seem to have natural immunity. Russians -- well, for them it might be a long, cold winter.
In our country, doctors keep prescribing diet and exercise, but you know how bad their handwriting is, so some of us think they mean to maintain a good diet and exercise, while others think they want us to avoid those things altogether.
All I can do is to nervously monitor the news from my easy chair. I see victims of the epidemic who are braver than I. These poor souls go out in public, and the TV mercifully shows them only from the neck down.
If someone doesn't find a cure for obesity soon, one of those headless bodies will be me.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.