That was the headline of the New York Times article about the new USDA dietary guidelines, out last week. Apparently the government is finally realizing what the rest of us noticed years ago: Americans are fat, and the way to lose weight is to eat less.
Thank goodness someone is finally saying it out loud.
The obesity epidemic in this country is complicated, and I don’t feel like trying to write something complicated right now. But if you’re interested in learning more about these new guidelines, I suggest you listen to the Diane Rehm show from February 1st. Walter Willett (whom I respect a great deal) was on the panel, as well as several other experts. It was a fascinating–if sometimes heated–conversation.
But here’s the thing that bothers me. Like I said, I realize that this is a complicated issue. BUT–and this may be purely a reflection of the milieu in which I came of age–there’s a really alarming dichotomy about the way we talk about weight in this country. It’s like America has a collective split personality. Most of us are obese, but there’s also this segment of the population that has, or has had, or is afraid of having, an eating disorder, like anorexia or bulimia.
I watched this whole controversy play out last spring about an advertising campaign (for Gap? J Crew? I can’t remember) involving t-shirts that said, simply, Eat Less. The blogosphere was appalled. Twitter was incensed. The model was sort of scrawny, so I guess I understand why that message on that young woman’s body might be provocative, but I just didn’t get the level of outrage.
I mean, let’s face it–as a group, Americans really do need to eat less. Even the government has noticed.