On Saturday and Sunday, Kish and I drove home from Maine. It was a long trip, so we broke it up into two days. The distance wasn’t a problem for me, though, because I just enjoy driving, listening to the radio, and seeing the countryside pass by.
We rolled along interstate highways in Massachusetts, upstate New York (where we got ridiculously gouged paying tolls on the New York Turnpike), and then Pennsylvania and Ohio. Because we were on the NY Turnpike, we used the service plazas to fill up, and we visited rest areas on the non-toll roads. As we stopped from time to time and I passed fellow travelers, I slowly realized something:
My God! We are a country of porkers!
Look, I recognize that the crowd you see on the interstate highway system in the Eastern time zone isn’t a random statistical sample of the United States as a whole. I know you can’t extrapolate from the people I happened to see, by chance, as I stopped to fill up or hit the men’s restroom. But after a while the number of seriously obese people I was seeing at every stop became so obvious that it just couldn’t be ignored. And I’m not talking about people who are a few pounds above their ideal, either. I’m talking about people that move with the slow waddle characteristic of the grossly overweight, men with colossal beer guts, women who are huffing and puffing just walking from their cars to a roadside restroom, and people who look like they are ready to burst out of their clothes.
I’m not saying this to be funny, or provocative. It really was disturbing, and depressing. There obviously are a lot of morbidly obese people in this country, and if you want to see them just drive a while on the interstate highway system. When you think about the back problems, and diabetes, and joint problems, and heart disease, and high blood pressure, and other health conditions associated with obesity, you realize that the weight problems of so many people have to be a large contributor to the exploding health care costs in the United States. Is it any wonder that we can’t control health care costs, when so many people can’t control their own urges and their own weight?