By David Anderson
Remember how one of our dear departed council members thought it would be funny –back during the great debate over gambling in our city — to dismiss the whole matter of the so-called evils associated with convenience casinos, situated as they are on strategic corners in the city, by suggesting that those advocating for a ban on card rooms were the equivalent of fat-content checkers at fast food eateries?
In the spirit of FactCheck.org which bills itself as a “consumer advocate to correct inaccurate, misleading, or false claims by politicians,” here is my version called ‘Fat Check.’
“The image of putting Lakewood city staff into Burger King to check the fat content of the super-sized meals would be a nice funny bit,” he wrote, even going so far as to suggest, cavalierly (“showing an arrogant or jaunty disregard or lack of respect for something or somebody”) the following: “Be it resolved that Lakewood Government has better things to do than address gambling, smoking, sex addictions, alcohol, circuses and childhood obesity.”
Well, as a matter of fat, er fact, a new study (May 13, 2013) shows governance indeed has as much to do with the girth of its people as concerning itself with the growth of its programs.
According to the American Journal of Public Health, as reported by Nick Tate in Newsmax, “People who live closer to fast-food restaurants tend to be fatter than those living further away. Living near a fast-food joint may be hazardous to your health.”
On a scale of importance, government may indeed bear some weight of responsibility for how much people weigh.
“The results showed the greater the density of fast-food places (within five miles), the higher a resident’s BMI (Body Mass Index),” according to Lorraine Reitzel, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research at MD Anderson who led the study.
But not only were folks foolish for filling their faces by feasting on French fries from more familiar haunts, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center also found fatter folks had leaner wallets.
“We found a significant relationship between the number of fast food restaurants and BMI for within a half-mile, one-mile, and two-miles of the home, but only among lower-income study participants,” said Reitzel.
In other words, those with lower incomes had larger waistlines.
“There’s something about living close to a fast food restaurant that’s associated with a higher BMI. Fast food is specifically designed to be affordable, appealing, and convenient.”
Since people living closer to fast food places are fatter, what shall we say of cities enabling casinos to be established closer?
Or when the government actively encourages, on this epic eve of potentially the largest Powerball drawing in US history, the purchasing of scratch-off tickets by people barely scratching out a sub-existence?
“The lottery relies on the poorest and least educated — ‘Thrill Seeking Dreamers,’ it calls them — to spend more than everyone else.”
I know there is fat chance Lakewood leaders will ever exercise themselves to the point of actually engaging in a weight-loss program that might mean going on a casino diet.
The city, after all, played that biggest loser card in defeating the only initiative in its history threatening big losses, cut-backs, lay-offs, and essential services to be kicked to the curb should we go on a gambling fast. But now that the convenience of fast food has been shown to be a contributing factor to the un-health of those without wealth, I just want to bask for the moment, fat-and-happy, in the knowledge that I told you so.
With apologies (referring to my insertions in parenthesis) to the late Norm Maleng, King County Prosecuting Attorney, “The family unity (or fat content of a community) is not strengthened by offering (predatory partnering) more convenient gambling (or fast food joints) in every neighborhood. There is a direct link between problem gambling and domestic violence, child neglect, substance abuse, personal bankruptcy and crime (and in the case of French fries – obesity, a health hazard for which government, as it turns out, has responsibility)” – Seattle Times, November 22, 2005.