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Home > Culture and Society

It's a fat fat fat fat world

23 January 2004

Brace yourself.

Last year, in the United States, the amount spent on treating obesity-related diseases was $75 billion.

And that's a "conservative" estimate say the authors of the report, published by US think-tank RTI International and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

$75 billion. That's practically a war's worth of money spent on treating fatties every year. $7.7 billion spent by California alone.

Fancy another vast statistic? 44% of the adult population of Indiana are clinically obese. Hungry for more...?

According to CDC's 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is based on measured heights and weights, an estimated 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight (33 percent) or obese (31 percent).



But wait - who's that red-faced chubber puffing along, trying to catch up with the States? Ah yes, it's Britain. According to the BBC:

The % of obese adults in England has almost trebled since the beginning of the 1980s.

21% of men and 23.5% of women are obese.

The proportion of overweight children increased by 7% between 1996 and 2001.

By thunder, we're getting fat. And it's fairly obvious why. We eat crap and sit on our arses all day. Children particularly. And why? Well, apart from the constant diet of sugary rubbish and the frankly EVIL marketing strategies of fast food companies, the reason is this: computer games are just too damned good.

During the 1980s, computer games were a bit clunky and rubbish (obviously Elite is an exception). And however interesting they got, they still weren't quite as much fun as scampering around outside.

But now... a whole generation is being born who will never scamper. After all, why bother scampering in this world when you can leap about as a top CIA operative or buxom assassin in a thousand virtual realms?

And here's the thing: VR gaming is still in its infancy. It is currently still possible, after 29 straight hours of playing a game, for a child to get slightly bored and want to stand up and move about. Give it another ten years, and children will become almost completely static.

And there's no point in fighting it. We can't just stop developing the technology (they covered this point in Terminator, if you remember). So we might as well change our ideals, and look at the good side of the obesity epidemic:

    Fat, motionless children are going to spend less on clothes, shoes and books.

    People are going to become less 'looks conscious'. Faddish dieting and anorexia will be things of the past. In fact, being enormously fat might become something of a status symbol.

    A fat child lolling on a bed playing computer games and sucking pop from a bendy straw is much less likely than a 'slim' child to trip over and break a leg.

    Or be abducted and killed.

    We just need to re-educate ourselves. Heart disease can be fun. "Whoooaah -- felt a flutter -- I think I'm going! -- oh no, hang on, it was just indigestion! Ha ha ha!

    Scampering is over-rated.

Footnote: The US has just scuppered a UN anti-obesity programme, under pressure from their food companies. It's pathetic really.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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