Which is the greater American killer? Cigarettes or cheeseburgers?
Over 60 percent of Americans are either obese or overweight. Half a million Americans die of a sudden heart attack each year — a bit more than the 400,000 who die of lung cancer.
Smoking is down in this country because of a massive campaign to make people aware of the fact that smoking kills.
That's good. That brings down the number of lung cancer deaths, and it brings down that part of the heart attack death total that can be attributed to smoking.
But what about the nation's fat industry? Against the backdrop of death I have just described, the nation's packaged food industry continues to put more fat in its products because — they say — Americans like the taste.
How come the food industry isn't getting whacked just like the tobacco growers?
Bad as it is at home, it is far, far worse if you are driving across America.
The nation's food industry peddles heart attacks at every interstate off ramp in the form of a franchise or chain food.
The three major food groups of the American travelling experience are fat, salt and sugar. They are in everything, and you can't escape it. I think they've even figured out how to get all three into lettuce.
If you travel — as I did last week — on a business trip, everywhere you sit down to eat, you are facing a 695 heart attack.
And before you clutch your chest and go face down in the ketchup, you will spend years walking around wearing that cheeseburger and fries inside your ever-expanding shirt and pants.
Sure, sure, sure ... diet books. People make zillions on them and fine. I'm all for commerce.
But how come there isn't some lobbying group pestering Congress. Fat kills. Sugar kills. Salt kills. All three are very catchy slogans.
How come if you want to stay reasonably healthy, and you have to go on the road, you have to take cans of water-packed tuna in your suitcase and never, never, never go into a commercial eating establishment?
I know cigarettes kill, but so do cheeseburgers ... and the cheeseburgers are getting away with it because ... you have to eat something, and it's going to be so long until it kills you, your family will never know which particular cheeseburger to blame.
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