I knew I belonged in America when I recently read that we are now the Fattest Nation on Earth. That doesn’t mean that our girth on the old Rand McNally is changing, but that we Americans are, by and large (yes, pun intended; I am too clever by half) the fattest people on earth.
Now there are lots of studies like this that leave me cold. According to one report, for example, Americans eat 17 tons of hot dogs per person per month. I may be off a bit on the actual number, but I’m certain it is close to that. I don’t eat meat at all, so someone is eating my tonnage, so this study really has no meaning for me. But the fact that “We the people” are now “We the fattest people” speaks directly to my heart. And maybe a few inches lower as well.
I’m fat. Obese even, if the new Body Mass Index numbers for calculating obesity released by the National American Body Mass Index Council for Calling People Obese are correct. Honestly that used to bother me, but now that I realize Americans as a whole are the fattest people on earth I feel a certain civic pride in my size.
After reading of our new status, I flipped on the television (OK, it was on), and sat down on the couch (OK, I was already sitting on the couch), and lifted the remote (OK, it is permanently strapped to my hand) and flipped (yes, flipped! I read that changing channels with your thumb 7,000 times per day is the equivalent of walking to the fridge for a slice of cake, and exercise is good for you.) to find Dr. Sanjay Gupta or some other fit TV-MD aiming a camera at patriotic American bellies flopping mightily over their belts as they walk across an unidentified urban intersection.
This is supposed to shame me into hating my country and losing weight, and maybe it used to, but not any more. Look: America is slipping in our education standing, our economy is falling below that of Crudestan, and if it wasn’t for illegal aliens running across the border, no one would be running at all at all in this country, so we have to take pride in being Number One at something, even if it is being Number One in Fat.
So let’s celebrate! I’m thinking about designing and selling foam #1 fingers like those people wear at ball games. Mine would be a very pudgy orange foam hand holding a huge triple cheeseburger oozing with slightly lighter orange faux Russian dressing. I just have to decide where to put the #1 insignia, and I’m in business.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro is director of the One River Foundation in Murfreesboro, Tenn. This column appeared originally on his blog.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro appears in a new Baptist Center for Ethics DVD “Good Will for the Common Good: Nurturing Baptists’ Relationships with Jews.”