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The natives are getting restless. Someone in the main tower is shining a spotlight on the fat people of the nation. Please, don’t be angry with me -- that’s the word they’re using, fat. And they stand a chance of offending about seven out of ten people waddling -- rather, walking -- down the street, kids included. Again, I’m innocent. They show close-ups of these folk from the neck down struggling to climb stairs, sprawled on park benches eating ice cream, desperately hurrying to cross busy streets and, alas, sunbathing at the beaches.

Who are “they” who are fussing over the matter? They are university research teams, state and federal governmental agencies, private industry, authors in nutrition, psychology and sociology, doctors, assorted charlatans, late-night TV hosts and finally the news media and their reporters responding to the growing overweight epidemic. Even I wrote a book, Your Body Revival, targeting the mess and what to do about it. It won the 2002 Laree Draper Award for enlightening content and writing excellence.

There have been Administration notables appearing before congressional committees and the public, declaring the frightening plight and the need to do something about it. Obesity is on the heels of cigarette smoking as the number one controllable cause of death in our society. Along with this sad truth is the cold fact that it’s costing the nation money big time: insurance rates, hospital bills, destructive trivial lawsuits, inefficient job performance, lost work time due to sickness, lower company productivity and government litigation.

Tommy Thompson, speaking for our health department before a group of citizens recently said something profound, possibly revolutionary: “If you eat more calories than you burn, you’ll get fat.” He went on to point out exercise, such as walking, will counter the national dilemma. “Get a dog and walk it,” was tip number six on a list of 10 doables the department offered to confront the disease. This, of course, followed tip number five, “Eat less.”

Stand back, people. That big sucking sound you hear will be the vacuum caused by the sudden fat loss of nearly 200 million overweight Americans. And that barking and yelping will be their terrified dogs as their masters at the other end of the leash shrink before their eyes.

I wonder if we’ll accomplish anything substantial with this round of national overweight alert -- fat fright (stout shock, potbelly panic, big bottom blues, flabby flippies, dumpy dizzies, tubby terrors, heavy horrors), or will the subject make the rounds of the talk shows and human-interest news reports before disappearing like apple pie a' la mode?

Aren’t you glad you’re hip, even though your hips may be a tinsy bit rounder than you wish? We are aware, we care and we dare. We are applying ourselves to the wonderful proposition of improvement, improving ourselves throughout, by getting in touch and staying in touch, reading, reviewing, sharing and doing. The masses, I’m afraid, are forever looking the other way -- TV, the refrigerator, ball scores, stock prices -- while the silent monster has moved into their house filling their cupboards with junk food and their wardrobe with loose flesh.

Personal responsibility has become obsolete and it’s no longer fitting -- politically correct -- to call by name what a person is or has allowed him or herself to become. As a part of the whole, I’m concerned -- scared silly -- as it reflects the continually declining nature of today’s community, our co-inhabitant. Does that sting? Who can deny this dismal evolutionary phenomenon?

Bombers, we are talkin’ about seven out of ten are overweight and the rest, but for a handful, are under-muscled. Seven out of ten and rising, brothers and sisters, as the waistline goes up, the character comes down. Fight the good fight? I don’t think so; the good fight is becoming a rout.

We’re safe and aspiring, they’re not. Train hard, eat right and be strong.

I have high hopes. I think people will get the message if we continue the campaign, hitting the apathetic egos with daily reminders of the overweight disaster through ads focusing on the pitiable struggle of ordinary folks making their way through the day. This is not to ridicule them, but to open their eyes and help them see who and what they are: sluggish and dying rather than vital and alive.

Wow! That sounds mean and negative, but it’s serious and true.

Since it is in the interest of the economy (as well as national and international health -- energy, endurance, high-spirits and enthusiasm for living) we have a better chance fighting the sugar and junk food enterprises, tackling obesity and getting the three-letter “F” word out of our faces. We’re seeing changes in the fast food industry -- salad bars, elimination of oversized servings, healthier protein choices, fewer carbohydrates, improved frying oils, and more attention to food labeling. We should no longer excuse, defend or ignore the plight. Time for an attitude change, Bubba and Blubba, face it and fix it.

It starts with the kids. Actually, it starts with the parents, and their parents before them. Basic health education has vanished from home and school. Phys-ed in schools has fallen to the wayside while TV and technology have replaced outdoor play. Modernization is strangling its brilliant creators and leading proponents. We have robots romping around Mars, but we’re too lazy to romp in our own backyard. Go figure. Our butts grow fatter and our backs grow weaker; the blood pressure goes up and the life expectancy goes down. What useful advances will tomorrow bring?

Here’s a tough one. Schools are stacked with fast food in the cafeterias and soda and candy vending machines in the halls. Officials say the schools are poor and the franchises bring in revenue. Shrewd business plan, but the kids pay through the nose -- and heart, hypothalamus, adrenal gland, kidneys, liver and brain.

Another tough one: physical education and recess is dangerous and kids might get hurt and the schools might get sued. Jane scratched her knee: You’re right, Counselor, the child’s now an emotional wreck; let’s sue the system. Same ole’ problems: big insurance, personal responsibility and weak society.

Wake up, America; we have a real war to fight.

Here’s my simple yet provocative plan:

Walk a dog to school. Better yet, get a new-born calf and carry it to school everyday till you graduate.

Reinstall physical education in schools; the ever-loving ABCs of nutrition, and good sports and exercise. Teach survival skills: smart and healthy living in a tough and challenging world.

Remove the sugar and junk-food vending machines from school premises. While you’re at it, might as well get rid of the cigarette machine and the dope dealer sitting in his BMW across the street.

Replace the fast foods in cafeterias with proper foods for health and goodness: Bomber Blend, mercury-free tuna, water, amino acids and other delights. Get ripped.

Offer incentives to schools or businesses that initiate healthy dietary programs.

How about more active Police Athletic League (PAL) participation and non-belligerent Little League sport programs? Wholesome has become corny and being bad is cool. Perhaps now is a right time to reverse the swing of the pendulum. Wholesome is cool and bad is just plain bad.

Hey, I’m trying to be creative here. When I was 18 I had the key to the Lincoln Junior High gym and taught weight lifting for the PAL to a bunch of Secaucus’ youths one summer... kept all of us out of trouble. Couple of the guys from those days recently hooked up with and subscribe to our wholesome and cool newsletter. Not bad.

Foster appreciation for and understanding of our nation by emphasizing national and world history, with all the flaws of man plus his stirring glory and monumental achievements. Care for one’s country and awareness of one’s neighbor engenders care and awareness of one's self. That’s a stretch, but stretching is believed by some coaches to be good before working out.

A novel idea: Parents should become parents in some way, large or small. And teachers should become the dedicated teachers they desire to be and they must be paid appropriately for the task of preparing the country’s kids, its future leaders and supporters. It all starts with passion and discipline, courage and will. Note -- the same characteristics required to prevent obesity and to overcome the disabling disease.

A flash: If there was less bureaucracy there’d be less obesity. Think about it.

I can understand Tommy Thompson’s difficulty in originality. Little more can be said than exercise more, eat less junk and walk your dog. Get a brain, maybe.

Next week, bombers, we talk about will and caprice -- determination and going through the motions. One is like flying an aircraft and the other is like falling out of the aircraft.

Bombers fly... and fly and fly.

God’s speed and perseverance... Dave Draper

PS: Your Body Revival was written by me two years ago as a challenge to the suffering overweight populous. As with all my material, it was promising and straight-forward and truthful (brilliant, side-splittingly funny and Nobel prize winningly provocative). The truth is not exceedingly marketable or recognizable, as you know, and the entire world did not go on to read my simple precepts, real-life stories of encouragement and tips and hints for body revival. YBR is a cool book, too cool for the guy and gal secretly crunching their bathroom scales and outgrowing their undies. It's also on sale this month for $12.95, autographed and hallowed. You'll like it.

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