16 May 2013
First Published in CNHI News Service
In the 2008 Pixar movie WALL.E, humans so clogged up the earth with garbage they had to move to spaceships. Motorized chairs ferried the obese blobs portraying people of the future, who sipped liquids from massive cups and sat mesmerized by video screens.
It was both funny and scary in its assessment of America’s throw-away, fast-food culture where convenience is everything and self-control and direction outsourced to technology. At the time of the movie it was part of an emerging chorus of voices decrying Americans’ growing girth. Five years later it is almost impossible to go a day without seeing a news story on obesity; first lady Michelle Obama has made childhood exercise and healthy eating a top priority; and even purveyors of the triumvirate of salt, sugar and fat feel compelled to make amends for selling the stuff most blamed for everything from extra pounds to diabetes and heart disease. Coca-Cola, for example, recently promised to make lower-calorie drinks and nutrition information for its products more widely available around the world.