Friday, July 17, 2009

Roundup of books on the epidemic of fattened-up Americans

Elizabeth Kolbert, in the New Yorker, reviews recent books about America's growing waistlines. There are a number of theories, and the books cover a broad span. The article itself is enlightening.

EK: Hospitals have had to buy special wheelchairs and operating tables to accommodate the obese, and revolving doors have had to be widened—the typical door went from about ten feet to about twelve feet across. An Indiana company called Goliath Casket has begun offering triple-wide coffins with reinforced hinges that can hold up to eleven hundred pounds. It has been estimated that Americans’ extra bulk costs the airlines a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of jet fuel annually.

Such a broad social development seems to require an explanation on the same scale. Something big must have changed in America to cause so many people to gain so much weight so quickly. But what, exactly, is unclear—a mystery batter-dipped in an enigma. More...

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