Fatty food commonwealth

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The New York Times Politics Blog, The Caucus, takes issue with some of the standard Pennsylvania fare being offered up to Senator Obama during his 6-day5 4/5-day bus tour.

Question to our Keystone State readers: What is it with this Pennsylvania fetish for bizarre world food combinations? In Johnstown, this New Yorker encountered the artery-clogging prospect of cheese-fries. And here in this diner in a perfectly lovely corner of this Berks County we come upon the Marvel Mess, a sandwich combining eggs, potatoes, onions, cheese, green peppers and Shiva only knows what else. (And in Philadelphia, my college son Nick tells me they serve up a sandwich called the Roethlisberger, named after the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, which sound so utterly and purely disgusting in its bouillabaisse combination of mystery meats and cheeses and coarse spices, as to induce a stomach-throbbing ache just hearing of it).

One of the commenters to that blog post brings up an interesting point about this almost-biblical display of gift bearing and food sacrifice:

Another glimpse into why middle America is so tremendously obese. Our country is blessed with overabundance, but that doesn’t mean we have to stuff it down our gullets all at one time.

We could probably all benefit from exercising moderation.

I happen to agree.  Although it would be political suicide at this point in the race for a candidate to make an example of some small town’s famous fried crap and butter sandwich, it would be nice to hear more of discussion about the public health implications of this nation’s diet and exercise habits.

Given the implications of obesity and the pressure put on our healthcare system by the incidence of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc. that are a result of the poor eating and activity routines of the average American, this becomes an issue that affects all of us.  We all end up paying as tax dollars are diverted from infrastructure repair (for example) to Medicare and Medicaid for older and lower income folks who require care for diet-related chronic conditions.  We all end up paying higher insurance premiums as middle and upper income folks with similar maladies seek the best care possible for illnesses that could have been prevented by dialing back the calories and upping the heart rate 4-6 times per week.

I, for one, would be very impressed if the next candidate to make a visit to Pat’s Steaks pulls a Terrell Owens and says, thanks, but no thanks and takes a bite of an apple instead.

Yes, I know… all things in moderation.  But when you’re already 30, 40, 50, 100 pounds overweight, it’s time to put down the Roethlisberger.

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