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Letter From The Editor: People Watching

Truth be told, I do not get out much.

Mostly I keep my head down, talk to people on the telephone, and exchange endless email traffic. My routine outings in winter are to Colorado ski areas, where it’s usually snowing and the only people I see through my goggles are bundled up tight like me.

I go down to my seats in Coors Field for the other six months of the year. I park in the same place and greet Josh the usher who opens the door for me to the club level where the same vendors fulfill my needs.  Many of the fans in Section 236 are familiar faces to me.

So, when I found myself killing time at Denver’s upscale Cherry Hills Mall last weekend, I found a nice chair for about 90 minutes of people watching.

Now let me explain a couple of things before I really get myself into trouble. In the past 30 years, I’ve lived in just two places — Seattle and Denver. Colorado ranks as the fittest state in the nation and Washington state is not far behind.

Long before the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, being more active than not was routine in both places. I remember a comedy skit put on by an independent theater on Seattle’s Capitol Hill that made fun of how much recreational gear could be found in the typical closet of the area’s 600-square foot apartments.

As for Colorado — it is the state that annually kills more people in avalanches and by lightening strikes than any other. To go by either method, you are generally going to be above 10,000 feet.

This is not to say that you cannot spot obese people while people watching at a Denver mall.   You can, but they do not overwhelm you.

So during my 90 minutes of official people watching, what did I see that I should talk about?   I am trying to put this gently, but I noticed numerous pairs or threesomes of obese mothers trailing along with obese daughters. What could not be ignored was that all were wearing skintight clothing and in some cases less.

I could not help but sit there thinking:  “Boy, Michelle Obama might be taking on more than even she can handle.”

It was the late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan who came up with the concept of “defining deviancy down” and thereby lowering the shared standards of society. It’s probably not fair to compare something like crime to what is acceptable for an obese person’s dress, but something is at work here.

My people-watching session occurred the day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came out with its draft menu and vending machine regulations calling for calorie labeling on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, retails food stores, and on vending machines.

I am left wondering — if an obese subculture exists in this, the most fit state in the union, where flaunting it is the norm and it is totally accepted, will more information on calories really be a solution? 

I guess people watching leads to more questions than answers. Or maybe I should get out more.

© Food Safety News
  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Bill, while the fact that our son is overweight, may have saved his life when he was poisoned by Salmonella, we have had to watch what he eats for years. We have hired experts to help and us with this. He tries to make smart choices but I can tell you first hand that the caloric information on products and now at restaurants has been invaluable. I truly believe it will help obese children, if there parents are paying even a small bit of attention.