The plumping up of America's kids is a favorite topic of news magazines. Time recently published a health issue whose cover showed a chubby boy holding a gigantic, double-scoop ice-cream cone. The accompanying story was entitled, "Our Super-Sized Kids", with the note that it's not just genetics and diet that are creating the surge in juvenile obesity.
No, wrote Time. Not just genetics and diet but also poverty. Poor kids on remote Indian reservations, for instance, have little access to healthy fruits and vegetables.
Not just genetics and diet but also environment. Caucasian children in fitness-conscious towns like Boulder, Colo., which is loaded with bike trails and health-food stores, have low obesity levels.
Not just genetics and diet, but also race. The latest national figures show a 30-percent obesity rate among white kids. The figure is five points higher for blacks and eight points higher for Mexican-Americans. Time notes that few blacks, proportionally, live in neighborhoods with well-stocked grocery stores; instead, little corner stores peddle sweets and soft drinks and salty snacks. And fattening foods like tamales and refried beans, cooked in lard, are staples of the Mexican-American diet.
Time also wrote about education levels, the sedentary lifestyle brought on by today's techno-gadgets, fattening foods in school cafeterias and vending machines, and reductions in physical-education classes as contributors to childhood obesity.
But at some point the issue must circle back to what, and how much, we are putting in our mouths. The what is high-calorie, high-fat foods and drinks. And the how much is a whole lot.