As more and more Americans become obese, companies are cashing in. They're building heftier bedsprings and baby strollers, reinforced barstools -- even gigantic caskets. A photograph accompanying an Associated Press story about this shows a man standing behind a coffin that looks like a river barge! Instead of the usual 70 centimeters, it's 132 centimeters wide.
All this, because, according to the U.S. government, about two-thirds of our men and women, and one-third of our children, are overweight.
Fast-food restaurants get a lot of the blame, but most of them offer at least a few lower-fat alternatives to their greasy burgers and fries.
Even bigger villains are the so-called "convenience stores" -- convenient, if you're in a hurry to get fat. One that the Washington Post found near a school in a poor neighborhood sold out 640 bags of honey cheese curls, 140 bags of salted potato chips, 240 packages of sugary shortcake rolls, and 2,400 bottles of sweet soda -- all in just five school days. The owner was proud of his low prices. "That lets the kids get the cheapest breakfast in town," he told the newspaper. "A core meal of juice, cake, and two bags of chips."
But it's not just poor Americans who are on a sugar high. On a recent trip through the South, one couple kept track of the offerings at the little quick-in/quick-out stores attached to gasoline stations. Most had not a single apple or banana or carton of low-fat milk. Every shelf was jammed with sugary drinks, fattening beer and sausages and potato chips and candy bars -- not to mention cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobaccos, and snuff.
The couple DID find breakfast cereal -- sugar-frosted, of course. With these kinds of choices, it's no wonder we're super-sizing our theater seats, our underwear . . . and our caskets.