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Obesity: If You Must Eat, Please Don't Inhale



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Congress' response to America's obesity crisis --- to prevent fat people from suing food companies --- may make lawyers lean and hungry. But this "which came first, the chicken or the Egg McMuffin" debate is ultimately useless.

All we have to do is go after Big Fat the same way we went after Big Tobacco. Kick butt, as it were, again.

Put warning labels on all food, making them increasingly rude as the public warms to the derision. For example: > "Eating too much of this is bad for your health." > "Eating too much of this will make it difficult to tie your shoes or get into a canoe." > "You are the reason the Earth wobbles on its axis."

And here are several other common-sense steps we could take: > Require "No Eating" sections in restaurants. > Require people to tip 15 percent --- of their weight --- in restaurants. > Require food companies to run "Designated Eater" ads that encourage others just to watch. > Ban drive-through windows at restaurants, or at least mine the approaches. > Pass "fat driving laws" making it illegal to eat in an automobile. > Add FAT scores (the percentage of a person's weight that is overweight) along with SAT scores to the criteria for college admissions. > Ban "secondhand fat" (the smell given off by fried fast food) from the workplace. > Ban the consumption of anything except raw vegetables, fruit, diet soft drinks, water, coffee or fruit juice at workers' desks. > Ban snack machines, soft drink machines, snack bars and eating in all public buildings, including outdoor stadiums and parks and national forests and game preserves. > And post these signs in public buildings:

Thank You for Not Eating.

Thank You for Not Reeking of Grease.

Thank You for Not Weighing More Than a Winnebago.

Of course, no government program is perfect. There will be side effects as people try to adapt. Some of these societal shifts will seem strange at first: We will see people huddled and shivering in entryways to buildings as they wolf breakfast burritos. And hoods sneaking Cheetos in high school bathrooms.

Yes, it will be ugly.

But at least it will be an ugliness that looks better in a bathing suit. With the shape this country is in, that's what matters. Jeffry Scott is a lean and mean staff writer at the AJC.

Copyright 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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