[SATIRE] The USA in crisis: Unmasking the true threat to our national health.

By | January 28, 2011


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Sadly, the United States is losing the international race to produce an immortal population. A new report from the US National Research Council has revealed that life expectancy in the US is rising more slowly than anticipated, and more slowly than other nations of similar circumstance around the world. Rising more slowly is basically the same thing as declining, as we all know. This is very important, mostly because it’s been a couple days since we had a reason to put the word “obesity” on the front page of a major news site.

Naturellement, the favored reason for our lagging behind the pack, appropriately like a fat asthmatic kid running laps in gym class, is our obesity. Also, to a lesser extent, our penchant for smoking. Although widespread acceptance of smoking has since been replaced by a totally reasonable rejection of smokers as evil cancer-spouting chimneys, annoyingly, Americans continue to die from smoking-related diseases, and are thereby dragging our proud nation down in the battle to defeat the inevitability of death. On the up side, now that smoking is only done by misanthropes, miscreants, and kickers of innocent puppies, the US life expectancy should go up a lot faster in the future. Which is good! Except no, there is no up side, because of the obesity epidemic, and that may or may not make us die sooner, possibly, if such things can be predicted, which they mostly can’t. Which is bad.*

But let me throw it to an expert:

While smoking is the key factor, the report also said obesity may account for a fifth to a third of the U.S. shortfall in life expectancy.

It’s hard to predict if that impact will continue, Crimmins said. Treatments may allow people to survive obesity’s damage for longer, although specialists are particularly concerned about the lifespan of children who live all their lives obese rather than getting fat after they’re grown. (Source)

Smoking is deadlier than obesity? Well, I’m a little dubious there, given that I sure hear more about obesity being a big deadly thing, and everyone I know agrees with me, therefore it must be true. And so far as obese kids go? Let’s be honest, none of those children will live to be adults. Their fat will crush them long before then. Because that’s what fat does, as we all know. It crushes children to death.

Finally, it almost seems as though the person in the above quote is arguing that receiving adequate treatment for obesity-related health issues may help folks live longer. Next we’ll be hearing that reliable access to high-quality healthcare actually improves both the length and quality of life for individual patients across race, class, weight, and lots of other factors. And that’s crazy talk.

While poor access to healthcare sends some Americans to an early grave, its effects pale beside the damage caused by unhealthy lifestyles, says Samuel Preston of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, co-chair of the NRC panel. “The basic message is that personal behaviours are primarily responsible,” he says. (Source)

See what I mean? Crazy talk. Fat folks need to be constantly and unrelentingly shamed for their obesemaking lifestyles; it worked for the smokers!

Of course, none of what we see above is new. However, in looking over the numbers associated with this report so I could write this totally-educated bloggery, I spotted a disturbing trend that seems to have gone completely unnoticed by the report’s authors, as well as the media coverage. Now I’m not a scientist, but this pattern fairly leaps off the page. Let’s look at it together, won’t we?

Life expectancy by country (source):

Women

Australia 83.78
Canada 82.95
Denmark 80.53
England and Wales 81.73
France 84.39
Italy 84.09
Japan 85.98
Netherlands 81.89
Sweden 82.95
United States 80.78

Men

Australia 79.27
Canada 78.35
Denmark 76.13
England and Wales 77.46
France 77.43
Italy 78.62
Japan 79.20
Netherlands 77.63
Sweden 78.92
United States 75.64

Do you see it? Do you see the disturbing trend? It sure seems to me that a major drag on life expectancy in all countries is the continued existence of men. Look how much lower their dying-ages are, no matter where they live. How has this not been identified as a serious risk to our public health? Having uncovered this heretofore-unknown but clearly very dangerous threat, I don’t think we have any choice but to mount an aggressive three-pronged campaign to deal with the male threat to our national survival. Because I care about your health, you guys. All of you.

First: we must identify, through extensive research, why men are such a persistent drag on both our statistical health as well as our healthcare resources, as it stands to reason that men die sooner because they are sicker, and therefore cost more to support. Is it the fault of the tissue that makes up the penis and testicles? Maybe. Is it because men are all morally corrupt? Probably, but we should check it out to be sure.

Second: we must investigate all options to make men into not-men, and, in concert with a targeted public campaign to raise awareness of the looming specter of maleness, we must subsidize companies to produce and sell these de-maleing options. Methods for de-manification may include irresponsibly prescribed off-label drugs, specially-designed underpants that inhibit blood supply to the genitalia, and finally, surgery. We should not let petty concerns about safety stem our enthusiasm, especially considering these guys are going to die early anyway, so who cares.

Third, and possibly most important: we will need to devise a program for preventing the addition of any further men to the population, by which effort we may stamp out the male stain on our national life expectancy rates forever. The most direct means of accomplishing this task is obviously selective abortion, but as that would prove difficult to implement owing to religious and other moral objections, we must also seek out a means of ensuring that we catch maleness before it takes hold even in the womb. Possibly this can be accomplished with a proper diet, or by conceiving in a certain position.

Again, I don’t know all the details, as I’m not a scientist. But something has to be done. I think we can all agree on that.

It’s possible that this effort may pathologize the male body a little. It will most certainly result in the development of a powerful bias against men as inherently unhealthy beings, no matter their individual circumstances. But I think it will be worth these small drawbacks if we are able to improve the rate at which our life expectancy is increasing relative to other similar countries. Because that’s what public health is about, right? It’s about improving statistics, not the lives of everyday citizens. It’s about blaming individual behavior, not a convoluted matrix of environmental, social, cultural, biological, and behavioral factors.

And what of the men themselves? Though they will likely rebel against the idea at first, once we’ve thoroughly educated them on how their insistence on being male is negatively impacting their health, of course they will understand. I’ve no doubt that men will readily make this sacrifice in the interest of both their individual and our national health. Men, we have faith in you! You can do it! You can get rid of your maleness in the interest of being a healthier, longer-lived person! Not doing so is basically like tacitly accepting that you’ll die someday, which is pure laziness. You just need to try harder.

Why on earth would I lie to you about this?

*And the frogurt is also cursed.


26 Comments

Susan on January 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm.

Fatabulous!

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Caitlin on January 28, 2011 at 2:40 pm.

**but you get your choice of topping.

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Michelle on January 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm.

Because that’s what public health is about, right? It’s about improving statistics, not the lives of everyday citizens. It’s about blaming individual behavior, not a convoluted matrix of environmental, social, cultural, biological, and behavioral factors.

Everything you say is true.

Time to step up, guys, and stop being such a drain on society.

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Pegkitty on January 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm.

Plus, look at me! I’ve been not-male my whole life, and it’s never taken much effort on my part! If I can do it, anyone can!

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krismcn on January 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm.

Hear, hear! It’s about time we address this Maleness Epidemic formally and aggressively!

As to the third prong of your campaign: We need to stamp out maleness at the source! We know the ultimate cause of maleness can be traced directly back to the fathers. It is they, after all, who provide the y-chromosome. It’s not that I think fathers everywhere are intending on saddling their children (and society) with the short, miserable (and expensive!) lives that men lead, but that they just don’t understand the consequences of the undisciplined, morally suspect, and selfish dissemination of the y-chromosome willy-nilly. I’m sure they simply want what’s best for their children but don’t understand what’s at stake. I’m not calling them “simple”, mind you! Just….uneducated. Obviously, they just don’t know what’s best. We need to develop a national education campaign to get men to stop passing on y-chromosomes entirely. Surely, once they realize that their lifestyle choices involving y-chromosomes and reproduction are in fact condemning fully half of their potential offspring to the horrors, both personal and public, of maleness, they will choose to stop! They will if they love their children, anyway. And, America! And if they don’t love their children and America, which will be self-evident in the continued production of male offspring, well then, they’re not worthy of our indulgence and benevolent guiding hand, and should be shamed! I mean, “ashamed”!

<3!

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Lesley on February 1, 2011 at 10:53 am.

Well put! I am adding you to the Male Epidemic Task Force right now.

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AcceptanceWoman on January 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm.

Because that’s what public health is about, right? It’s about improving statistics, not the lives of everyday citizens. It’s about blaming individual behavior, not a convoluted matrix of environmental, social, cultural, biological, and behavioral factors.

So sad. It’s not what public health is really about (spoken as an MPH). It’s supposed to be the other way around — using demographics, biostatistics and population health measures to detect problems and improve population health, not individual health. You know, like clean water and air, access to birth control and safe abortion, reducing premature births and SIDS when possible, reducing the number of outlets that sell cheap alcohol in poor neighborhoods.

I love this satire, but it makes me mourn for my profession, and wonder what I can do to fix it. I suppose I could join the APHA and try to work my way up through the ranks, but I’m currently in a job that doesn’t support travel costs and I don’t have enough to do it on my own. Maybe I’ll have to start trolling the public health message boards. Or I could try to work inside the system, like Katherine Flegal at CDC.

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Lesley on January 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm.

So sad. It’s not what public health is really about (spoken as an MPH). It’s supposed to be the other way around — using demographics, biostatistics and population health measures to detect problems and improve population health, not individual health. You know, like clean water and air, access to birth control and safe abortion, reducing premature births and SIDS when possible, reducing the number of outlets that sell cheap alcohol in poor neighborhoods.

I know! That’s part of the satire. And it IS sad.

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Bilt4Cmfrt on January 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm.

But- But. . . What about those of us men who might not KNOW that we’re male? It can be hard to tell for some men, what with all those others walking around being unabashedly male and actually talking like there’s nothing wrong with it. As if Maleness is the default gender (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XY_sex-determination_system#Recent_studies_on_the_genetic_factors_which_influence_gender_traits) or that jeans (sp?) could have anything to DO with our current state of Maleosity (Woot! I made a WORD!).

As I’m sure we all realize, this is totally irresponsible. I mean, it encourages men who are actually TRYING not to be male, to just give up. Stay male, possible INCREASING their testosterone, and becoming MORE unhealthy.

I would argue that there is more at stake here than our inevitable immortality. Much of that will, obviously, be cleared up once processed foods are eradicated and whole / free range are the only things available to eat. No, I worry for The Children© and The Future(TM)! If we don’t act NOW, something vaguely defined but really, really, terrible is GOING to happen to THEM! We need to declare War on Maleosity before it’s too late!!

/satire
/sarcasm

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Lesley on February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am.

I KNOW RIGHT? WHY ISN’T ANYONE PANICKING ABOUT THIS?

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juicepockets on January 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm.

***The toppings contain potassium benzoate.

Great post! I’ve been lurking here forever, but your reference to cursed frogurt has prompted me to say howdy. So, howdy!

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jmdr on January 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm.

Don’t forget: we also need to start targeting men’s clothing manufacturers. I don’t care how many men there are in the world, maleness isn’t normal, and providing them with their own clothing just enables them to stay male. If they can’t make do with a dress, they shouldn’t go outside.

***The topings contain potassium benzoate.

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flightless on January 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm.

Oh man.* Just when I thought this couldn’t be any more priceless, I hit the frogurt footnote. YAY.

Sadly dead-on! And I also love @Pegkitty’s comment. Look, if we can manage to stay not-male, you guys should be able to get there too!

*sorry

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AcceptanceWoman on January 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm.

I’m tired of hearing how men “can’t help it.” Bullshit. Look at drag queens. I bet they live twice as long as men who don’t even make an effort.
Sure, some women don’t have to work hard at their feminine appearance. But most of us do work hard to stay “feminine” so men are just whining for no reason. Estrogen in = Estrogen out. True fact.

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AcceptanceWoman on January 29, 2011 at 11:46 am.

I totally agree with you, AcceptanceWoman. I just want to add that according to my math, women in Denmark suffer from a life expectancy .25 years shorter than ours here in the U.S. Therefore, they must be more male than we are.
To be honest, men are repulsive. I mean, have you ever smelled one? Sure, I have friends who are men, and even a husband who is one, but I insist that he shave twice a day, wear deodorant of my choosing over every inch of my body. I ask that he not exercise to much because his bulging muscles upset me. I can tolerate him this way, but when I see men working out — that really grosses me out. Or men with beards or mustaches — how dare they flaunt their maleness that way. Everyone knows it’s unattractive.

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Lesley on February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am.

A+

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E on January 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm.

This is brilliant! I can just picture people in the future using this as a source text when they look back and study today’s crazy moral panic.

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lilacsigil on January 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm.

What’s really funny is that Australia has similar obesity and smoking rates to the US – and we’re top of the chart. Weird what good access to quality universal healthcare* will do, isn’t it?

*Actually it’s because we train the sharks to eat the boy babies before they start dragging down the statistics. Also the fat babies, nom nom nom**

**This comment is posted by a shark

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meerkat on January 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm.

Does the Frogurt come with my choice of toppings?

(Aww, at least two people already covered that topic. I am so late to the party!)

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Willow on January 29, 2011 at 3:52 am.

Wow, the timing of this comment is just amazing. The 16 year old sister of a dear friend of mine passed away last night, and my friend is hurting deeply. Consequently, so are his family and his friends.

Such a strange, strange day.

Your noticing the trend of men weighing down the health care system made me smile a bit. Thank you for that. :)

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sanabituranima on January 29, 2011 at 8:39 am.

An excellent piece of satire.

Another point – does anyone realy expect life expectancy to go on increasing indefinitely? Because however few accidents there are, however un-polluted the environment is, however healthily we live, however brilliant the healthcare system is, however much money we have, however good our quality of housing is, however safe our workplaces are, however promptly people are evacuated before natural disasters, however much suicide prevention goes on, however good our genes are, EVERYONE WILL EVENTUALLY DIE. The human body cannot be made to last forever and there has to be a point where we push life-expectancy as far as it can go. It can’t increase forever.

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Stephanie on January 31, 2011 at 4:04 am.

I actually had an economics professor who told our class outright that he thought we would never have to die. He thought that we were young enough that we would live to see the day when doctors could cure old age.

Clearly, one should not look to an economics professor for advice on biology/medicine.

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Lesley on February 1, 2011 at 10:55 am.

The “inevitability” of death is loser talk, man!

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madagascar_b on January 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm.

@ Lilac

Australians are many things, but are we in general a slim nation? God no.

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HairyLegs on January 30, 2011 at 1:06 am.

satire: ur doing it right!

Seriously, when people reproduce offensive stereotypes against marginalized people and then say “it’s just satire,” I will now have an example to point them to and say “No THIS is satire, what you did was just bigotry.”

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Elizabeth on January 31, 2011 at 9:45 pm.

That was one of the single best things I have EVER read EVER! Ever. Brilliance…undisputed brilliance.

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