In an alternate reality, when obesity had reached epidemic proportions, annual deaths from obesity-related illnesses surpassed the yearly rate of tobacco-related deaths, and diabetes mellitus type 2 was presenting in ever younger patients as more and more children became overweight, a war on fat was declared.
Foods deemed as fattening and/or unhealthy were formally classified as “junk foods“, and outlawed. Harsh penalties were instituted for those convicted of trafficking in poisons like saturated fat, high-fructose corn syrup, and monosodium glutamate. Random body mass index (BMI) checks were implemented by schools and employers, and those whose BMIs were greater than 30 could be expelled from school or lose their jobs.
Obese people were suddenly considered to be one of those burdens upon society that costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year in health care, property damage, lost productivity, law enforcement, etc. The media depicted overweight people as blundering, oafish monsters who broke furniture and floors, as weaklings who could not control themselves around food, and as criminals who sold unhealthy foods containing banned ingredients to unsuspecting youth who would become hooked and doomed to a life of gluttony and corpulence.
(There was a brief outcry and movement toward providing some form of government intervention for people whose BMIs fell below 18, but the politics of thinness was an ugly — yet fortunately short-lived due to its effects upon the entertainment and fashion industries — business with opposing factions battling over the tyranny or socially responsible moral imperative, depending upon one’s place upon the BMI chart.)
It was a brilliant idea, a plan so simple and foolproof, it could not possibly have failed. A nasty human weakness would finally be eradicated, obesity and all of the miseries and maladies that go with it would become a thing of the past, and all the children would be safe and healthy. It should have worked like magic upon a deadly vice, which brought nothing but disease, despair, and doom to the many who overindulged. And just maybe it might have, if only.
If only the punishments had been more severe. If only the laws had been more strictly enforced. If only more was done to curb the insatiable demand for fatty and sweet foods. If only more was done to interdict the neverending supply of cakes, cookies, chips, candies, and all manner of greasy unwholesome (and uninspected for germs and parasites) meat and dairy products that flowed endlessly from the underground factories, to the back street “fryhouses,” and straight down into the expanding bellies of our youth. If only we hadn’t given up. If only we had dared to keep dreaming the impossible dream for just a little longer.
Toward the end of the War on Fat, as the crime rate skyrocketed, when our streets were filling with the heavy dispossessed, and more and more people were falling ill from having eaten black market food, a last ditch effort was made to win. The supply of so-called “precursor ingredients,” such as sugar, cooking oil, potatoes, and corn, was strictly regulated and rationed in order to prevent any of it from falling into the hands of the underground junk food pushers who would turn them into dangerous, and sometimes deadly, feasts. But that didn’t work, either. The big cartels, like the infamous “Munchies Mafia,” the notorious “Grub Gangstas,” or the mysterious “Fat Inc.” were already growing their own on clandestine farms all across the nation.
The “Compassionate Experiment” did not really fail, however, it simply didn’t produce the intended results. Perhaps it was because people have a natural right to consume whatever foods they please, and that rights can only be temporarily denied, never eradicated. Or it could be that attempting to legislate nature itself, instead of legislating humanity’s responsibilities to itself in the face and presence of it, is not a rational endeavor, but rather one of the many mad notions of vainglorious creatures who often get so drunk on pride that we lose the ability to determine what is and is not within humanity’s control.