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Our Over Consuming Society
Author: Cleaves M. Bennett MD FACP
Monday, January 07, 2008

We poor susceptible humans are being manipulated by such powerful forces, we don't have a chance to resist. In fact, we don't even know that resistance is called for! I guess the operative word here is "seduction". Hey, if you are enjoying yourself, like some fish gobbling down a big, fat juicy worm, why would you even consider resisting such urges? Well, for starters, gobbling down worms, that's how you end up in somebody's frying pan! Gobbling down too much of the American diet, that's how we got, and are still getting into ever more deeply, the Healthcare mess we are in today.

Everybody's getting sick! Everybody's going to their doctors! Every-body's taking pills! Healthcare costs are rising faster than the rate of inflation! As the baby boomers reach retirement and become eligible for Medicare, the Healthcare inflation rate is going to speed up. The GAO has predicted the country will go bankrupt before 2020. Well, at least then we'll have to come home from Iraq.

So what is the explanation for all this gourmandizing? As Rocky once said, "We ain't got a chance." Look all the food messages we get everyday. TV is so amazingly powerful, and they're only getting better at it! The pictures! You could almost eat those pictures. Prime, savory, double creamy; and ambrosial, yet hearty, with a dense, velvety consistency. Mmmm, they've got you licking your lips. Those ad men are really good at it. They are earning their money. They have been at this for a long time and they have learned what gets us to order what we order, and buy what we buy, and eat… well, really "wolf" down, or "stuffing it in", until we are holding our bellies and groaning with pleasure. At least most of us think that over-stuffed, slightly nauseous feeling is "pleasure". We have big enough smiles on our faces afterwards. "Hmmm, that was good!"

And then we go home and tell all our friends and neighbors how really good it was. Makes them all want to go too. Gluttony is as catching as a cold virus. Hey, wasn't gluttony one of the seven deadly sins? Well, for sure they were right about deadly!

What ever it is they want to sell us, we'll go along. What ever they want us to eat, we'll go along. We are the enslaved and those food marketers are our masters. The ad men don't really care about us. To them we are just consumers… and it's our job is to consume. The more, the merrier. Meanwhile General Mills and Kraft and KFC and MacDonalds and Baskin Robbins and the rest of them are laughing all the way to the bank.

On the other hand, we are not laughing, walking out of our doctor's office with three expensive prescriptions to fill. We are not laughing in the back of an ambulance, siren blaring, being thrown back and forth on the stretcher as we race to get to some…. any emergency room in time. And we are definitely not laughing, waking up in a recovery room with a splitting headache and the worst sore throat you ever had. Worrying about how much got taken out, and what if anything new they had to put back in. And even scarier, how much of this is your insurance going to pay for? There was a popular book back in the 80's named something like "The American Way of Life Is Dangerous to Your Health". Exactly.

The forces pitted against us in our, maybe just recently started quest for health, those forces I am sure you've discovered are formidable. Do you watch television? (Duh, doesn't everybody?) Do see all those ads for foods? And then all the ads for drugs to counteract the harmful effects of all those foods? They've got us coming and going! The guys that market food and the gals who market drugs. What is their secret? Cash. Nice legs. Smart as hell.

Too many of us actually believe we can eat "barbecued" and "deep fried" and "thick and creamy" whatever and get away with it. Year after year after year. Even though our very own Daddy died of a heart attack when we were still in high school. And you know how much Daddy loved that Southern Fried Bar-bee-que. Beef or Pork or Chicken, sometimes all 3 at once. Sure gets your fingers sticky, don't it? The doc told us the insides of Daddy's arteries were too. Real sticky, ’specially his "coronaries". 47 he was, golf game just getting pretty good. Making pretty good money too. Heard he had a lady behind Mama's back, but that was just a rumor going round. Fifteen I was, not a very good age to lose the most important guiding force in your life. Never did get to go to college. And you know, I still got an alcohol problem.

(A true story of one of my high school friends. Don't do this to your kids.)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. - George Bernard Shaw

I aspire to be that unreasonable man.

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