Stefanella's Drive Thru

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The Obesity Factor August 5, 2008

While commuting my 6-year-old to summer camp this morning, an NPR story about a man facing execution for a rape and murder conviction came over the radio.

The man’s attorney is appealing the execution on the grounds of obesity; he claims his client is so obese – 270 pounds – that finding a vein for lethal injection would present unusually cruel circumstances.  It would take too long to get through the fat to find a vein and therefore his client shouldn’t be subjected to such added mental anguish prior to death.

The story referred to a similar situation last year wherein an obese death sentenced convicted criminal waited an unusually long 18 minutes as prison officials searched for a vein, administered a lethal injection and the dose took effect.

My personal stance on Capital Punishment doesn’t support the “eye for an eye” creed a death sentence carries with it.  I’m an advocate of plugging funds into reform programs.  But that’s not what this blog entry is about.

I’m in Ohio for the summer from Holy Land Central – aka Israel or The Promised Land – visiting my parents.  And because I live over there now, when I come here for a visit the degree of overweight and consumption is quite apparent.  Israel, mind you, is certainly not the poster child country for gaunt; but we have yet to reach the levels of overweight seen in the U.S.  Yet. I only hope food matters don’t get out of control in Israel as they have in the States.

Last weekend, after attending a killer tennis match between world class players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, my tennis-viewing partners and I set out in search of a dinner venue.  Unfamiliar with the local restaurant scene, I deferred to the U.S.-dwellers who chose a low-mid-range restaurant specializing in burgers.

Very little appealed to me menu-wise so I opted for a Cesar Salad with blackened chicken.  Several things about the dinner struck me which is why I bring it up here:

When my ginormous soda was half-full, our server brought another ginormous soda to the table and set it down beside the 1st.  Unprompted.  Back in HLC, that just wouldn’t happen.  1st of all, the soda would’ve been a third of the size.  Second, no freebies.  You want a refill?  You have to chase the server down for it and you’re definitely gonna pay.  Here, free & constant refills are de rigeur.

I also was dumbstruck by the restaurant’s “endless fries” policy.  Finished that first hefty serving that comes with your burger?  We’ll bring you more.  And more.  And more.  It’s endless. Sit here all night if you want. Bon appetit.

I cannot be the only one who sees this policy as flat out, no-questions-asked Wrong.

And when I ordered to-go Mac & Cheese for my at-home son, the server winked and offered:  I’ll put two orders in the bag; our Mac & Cheese is endless too and one serving really is too small.

Our server was not a petite girl nor were any of her colleagues.  I realized her way of showing the love was by offering extra helpings, quick refills and more of more. She’s not to be faulted for that.

But the “large, extra and more” seemingly beneficial dining policies are killing people here.  And yes, it’s an overbaked subject that’s been brought to the attention of policymakers and the general public.  But seeing it in living color is at times astounding.

And I also know that the type menu and dietary habits suggested above tend to apply to specific social hierarchies.  But not always.  Obesity cuts across fiscal stratum.

The lawyer trying to delay death using an obesity claim is a clever last ditch effort.  He’s doing his job.  But the platform of his argument is a surefire indicator of matters looming larger here in the U.S.

Pun intended.

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10 Responses to “The Obesity Factor”

  1. Ahuva Says:

    I was having a discussion with a friend of mine about this just today! The obesity factor, not the seemingly bizarre pardon by-reason-of-fattie plea. It really is astonishing to realize how this enormous habit has become the expected norm, and how bigger is always better. You know the saying- the more the merrier.
    Its kind of scary to think about how far it has gone. And its weirder still to see some of the effects this issue is having- From staying executions, to banning fast-food joints in L.A.
    Well written

  2. Benji Says:

    That is ridiculous. C’mon, Americans, lighten up! (I had to get my friend to type this comment for me. My fingers are too big.)

  3. Peggy Says:

    Kinda reminds me of the weddings in HLC. The amount of food provided at the weddings is so overwhelming that I’m usually full before I begin…

  4. Shari Says:

    I know!!! Every time I go home I am also astonished. Especially those all-you-can-eat buffets. They are scary.
    But haven’t you noticed the size of the portions are getting ridiculously big in Israel too? I ordered a meal in “Cafe Cafe” last week and was astounded.

  5. stefanella Says:

    Some of the salads and portion sizes you get in Israel are, indeed, gigantasaurous. But I somehow don’t ever see a buffet style eatery opening there. You’d have people taking up residence in the restaurant

  6. Lena Says:

    I’ve told friends back in the States the exact same things over and over…life just seems healthier here. I love it. And I’m glad that it’s not only me looking back at the food trends in the US and feeling disgusted.

  7. Gila Says:

    Should also be pointed out that the enormous salads are…well…salads. Veggies. Generally the non-veggie bits are of reasonable quantities.

  8. stefanella Says:

    Gila you’re right. But studies show (that’s always a good & vague way to highlight a point: “Studies show. . .”) that portion sizes matter too, veggies and all. I.e. it IS the size that counts, ultimately. Meaning that uncontrolled portions, regardless of the substance, lead to overweight.

  9. curious Says:

    not meaning to sound mean, but most of those yanks are serving themselves a death sentence by eating themselves to death, it’s a crime

  10. stefanella Says:

    Not mean at all. It’s the truth


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