Obesity Abatement: A Modest Proposal

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In eighteenth
century Ireland, Jonathan Swift’s satire A
Modest Proposal

advised the poor to sell their children as food for the rich. In
twenty-first century America, our problems and obsessions still
revolve around food, so I write this satire for those who believe
in a one-size-fits-all solution to our health problems.

Since the government’s
main job is to protect the people, then we as loyal servants of
the government should think of ways to aid our beloved government
in this duty. One of the leading problems of our country is obesity;
it is best to defer the job of combating this epidemic to our government.
As it is today, the free market has led our country down to a very
low level of health security. With so many food and beverage choices,
coupled with the perversity of marketing and advertising, it is
in the people’s best interest to allow the government to manage
the obesity epidemic for us rather than leaving it to the voracious
and decadent nature that is inherent in the free market.

I propose that
our next President creates a Department of Nutrition and Wellness
to address these health problems. Within 20 years of its foundation,
heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and many forms of cancer
could be eliminated. Life expectancy could surge by decades, and
the increased general health of the population would allow American
workers to produce well until their eighties. Healthcare costs would
lower and therefore so would insurance premiums. The savings could
be so significant that a national health care system could then
be easily affordable.

Naturally,
a plan of this magnitude should be researched and voted upon by
congressional committee, but in the interest of possibilities, I
envision the protocol to go something like this: every citizen would
be given five meal cards a day — breakfast, lunch, dinner and two
snacks. Each meal would be carefully measured for both caloric content
and maximum nutrition.  The meal cards would be distributed
by the local department subsidiary and turned in by the citizens
at a conveniently located Nutrition Resource Center. The meals will
be of the ready-to-eat variety to aid working families.

Doctors have
long said that the road to proper health is incomplete without regular
exercise. Gentle aerobics has been determined to be one of the very
best exercises for promoting proper circulation, digestion, and
overall well-being. Therefore the Nutrition and Wellness Department
would include a department-mandated exercise program consisting
of a daily morning regimen of calisthenics overseen by the Neighborhood
Kinesiology Corps.  Citizens would be free and even encouraged
to exercise in addition to the morning program, but the exercise
must be limited to routines that do not involve the degeneration
of the joints, such as jogging. Sports would be permitted if played
in professional stadiums, on school grounds, or in other public
venues by teams and organizations that have received departmental
approval.

Proper water
consumption would be compulsory; each citizen would be given a water
vessel that would combine the best in available monitoring technologies.
Sensors on the vessel would determine how many times a day the vessel
was filled and emptied. Another sensor would know whether or not
the citizens filled their eight daily glasses of water at a regular
pace throughout the day or if they cheated by quickly filling up
the vessels and pouring them out. Since vessel sensor technology
at this time cannot determine if the citizens are actually consuming
the water, department doctors will monitor their hydration levels
regularly.

In a perfect
world, everyone would follow the government’s mandate to the best
of his or her ability, but since this utopia cannot be quickly or
universally realized, measures must be taken to fully win the War
on Obesity. Unfortunately, there will be dissenters who will infringe
on the general citizenry’s well being by consuming more than their
allocated share of food. Some of these dissenters may go so far
as growing their own food in order to satisfy their unpatriotic
gluttony. When caught, the criminals will be taken to rendition
camps where they will be re-nutritioned to the American standard.
After their national target rate is reached and maintained for an
adequate amount of time, they will be released under supervision
into the general public and monitored for a period of time.

Though the
government would be sympathetic to those who commit the crime of
overconsumption on the first offense, it goes without saying that
subsequent offenses of overeating, including the deplorable act
of buying, selling, and trading of meal cards will be strictly prohibited
and punishable by fines, and repeat offenders will be imprisoned.
Cracking down on the private sales of unused meal cards must be
made a priority by the department. The enforcement branch of the
Department of Nutrition and Wellness will ensure that our nation’s
health is not jeopardized by the small percentage of the population
who wish to impinge on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

The private
ownership of livestock and crops on any scale would be prohibited.
Landscaping would be allowed, but citizens must register each species
of grass, plant and tree used in their yards to ensure that they
are not inadvertently growing edible produce or grain.  To
protect the citizenry from being abused by criminals, the department
must accredit all landscape and horticultural companies to ensure
that they are only selling government-approved plants and shrubbery.

Pets would
also be allowed, but must similarly be on an approved list of animals
that are not commonly consumed by Americans. To ensure lawfulness,
proof of the animal's life must be provided to the government on
a semi-annual basis. Upon the pet’s demise, it must be cremated
within 12 hours and have its ashes and RFID chip sent to the department
for verification that the pet’s body was disposed of in a lawful
manner and not illegally consumed.

In conclusion,
these are just a few of the ways the Department of Nutrition and
Wellness can aid America in becoming more nutritionally efficient
through this masterfully crafted program.  As the population
becomes healthier due to the implementation of the program, Americans,
who would no longer burdened by obesity-related diseases, will find
freedoms and joys that they never knew they had.  As the program
gains traction here in America, it can be shared in other parts
of the world where the people still rely on archaic methods to meet
their nutritional needs.

March
14, 2008

Todd Steinberg
[send him mail] works with
his family at a wholesale teddy bear company in Dallas. In his spare
time he is furiously working on his cartoon, "Don't Tell My
Wife I'm a Cult Leader," which he plans to unleash on the Internet
and beyond in 2008.

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